The Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Laboratory at West Conn has reported that its weekly sampling for deer ticks has reached the highest population level recorded since the lab initiated field monitoring in 2011.
The ticks are a common carrier of Lyme disease and other illnesses. During the last week of May, field samples collected on average 303 percent more deer ticks than in the same week in 2016. Over a longer timeframe, the record deer tick numbers in the final week of May showed a dramatic surge of 1,021 percent from the comparable week in 2014.
The West Conn lab has monitored deer tick populations on a weekly basis at sites in Danbury, Ridgefield and Newtown from May through August every year since 2011.
Lab Director Dr Neeta Connally says in this region, every year is a risky year for Lyme disease and other tick-associated infections.
The associate professor of biological and environmental studies at WCSU says residents should always be vigilant in protecting themselves from tick bites. Some ways for people to prevent encounters with ticks are to wear long pants and light-colored clothing, check all exposed skin thoroughly after spending time outdoors where ticks are present, bathe shortly after outdoor activity, and dry clothes on high heat after outdoor wear.
Connally last year received a $1.6 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control to conduct a four-year integrated tick management project that aims to combine findings from tick control research with study of human behaviors to produce more effective strategies to combat the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
The study is a collaborative effort between WCSU, the CDC and co-principal investigator Dr. Thomas Mather, professor and director of the Tick Encounter Resource Center at the University of Rhode Island. Field research has involved the collection of tick samples from the yards of homes in western Connecticut as well as in southern Rhode Island