State reports high tick numbers, infection rates
More than 40 percent of the 2,600 ticks received by the state for testing have been positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. That’s significantly higher than average, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, which put out a release Monday afternoon saying the state was at “peak tick abundance.”
Dr. Goudarz Molaei, who directs the experiment station’s tick testing program, said this year’s rate of ticks infected with Borrelia burgdoferi — which causes Lyme disease — is roughly 10 percent higher than what the state has seen over the past five years.
The experiment station is also reporting high tick infection rates with Babesia microti, which causes the malaria-like illness babesioisis, and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, which causes the illness human granulocytic anaplasmosis.
“We are in the midst of a peak activity for nymphal stages of blacklegged ‘deer’ ticks ... that are often difficult to detect because of their small size and propensity to quickly attach and feed,” said Dr. Theodore Andreadis, director of the experiment station in a news release. “Using tick repellants when hiking or camping and conducting tick checks remain the best ways to reduce the risk of contracting tick-borne disease.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Lyme disease — which can do severe damage to the joints and the nervous system — is the most commonly reported vector-borne disease in the country, affecting about 329,000 people annually. In Connecticut, there were 2,022 Lyme disease cases reported in 2017.