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Fire Ants a Growing Liability Concern for Elder Care Facilities; Experts Suggest Preventative Measures.

MONTVALE, N.J., Aug. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- As if elder care facilities didn't have enough liability concerns, fire ants are proving that big problems can come from the littlest creatures. Fire ant attacks on patients in nursing homes are increasing, according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Medicine.

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"Although fire ants traditionally live outside, they will enter buildings when foraging for food," says Bryan Gooch, business manager, insecticides, Bayer Environmental Science.

To reduce the potential health threat, Gooch suggests that elder care facilities deal with fire ants before they get inside the building. A new method, offered only through professionals, is TopChoice(TM) fire ant control. TopChoice is unique from traditional mound treatments because it both cures existing fire ant mounds as well as prevents new mounds for one year.

Long-term care facilities are inviting targets for fire ants. Heavy traffic in and out of multiple entries, combined with busy food service, laundry and storage areas, make effective pest prevention daunting.

According to Frank Meek, Technical Director for Orkin, Inc., nursing homes can use certain practices to keep fire ants out of nursing homes and long-term care facilities:
 -- Make sure that all exterior doors fit tightly and caulk any
 crevices, especially those on the exterior of the buildings
 -- Keep floors free of litter, food and other debris
 -- Cover and seal bulk-food storage containers and garbage containers
 -- Do not place storage racks flush against the wall. As a general
 rule, keep an 18" gap

Studies indicate that fire ants, which infest more than 325 million acres across the southern United States, sting more than 20 million adults and children each year. The elderly are part of the most vulnerable group due to their inability to move quickly or move at all when bedridden.

Recently, a number of long-term care facilities felt the sting associated with not being prepared for fire ants. In June, a Florida jury awarded $1.2 million to a 93-year-old woman who was stung by fire ants in her nursing home bed. And in January, the family of a 73-year-old retired postal worker filed suit against a Melbourne, Fla. nursing home because fire ants swarmed the man's bed and, ultimately, caused his death the following day.

A 2004 study by the Medical University of South Carolina shows that 10 to 15 percent of those stung by fire ants will experience severe localized allergic reactions, with one to two percent experiencing dangerous systemic reactions that, in rare cases, result in death.

Fire ants are a year-round threat to more than 40 million people living in the southern United States. Fire ants currently infest what is known as the "Fire Ant 13": Arkansas, Alabama, California, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas (and Puerto Rico). They are also moving northward and westward into Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri and Virginia.

TopChoice(TM) takes advantage of the natural behavior of ants. Within the first four to six weeks of an application, ants unknowingly come in contact with the product and bring it back to contaminate and eliminate the rest of the mound in what is known as the "Domino Effect(TM)." The product binds to the soil to prevent new colonies from forming.

TopChoice can be applied at any time during the year and is available only through lawn care and pest control professionals. For more information, homeowners can contact their local lawn care or pest control professional, or visit

CONTACT: Matt Broscious, Tierney Communications, +1-215-790-4337, for Bayer Environmental Science; or Bryan Gooch, Bayer Environmental Science, +1-201-307-3129

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 12, 2004
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