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Don’t Worry About Bears, Fear The Tick

Red indicates the hot zones, the orange & yellow mean moderate, and with the shades of blue, you’re not ‘out of the woods’ safe, but there’s less Lyme disease there.

When you’re outdoors, people tend to worry about bears. But the real dangers are ticks.

Connecticut is home to many different species of ticks that are known to carry diseases that are transmissible to humans.

The black legged tick or deer tick can transmit Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and Lyme. The lone star tick, rare in CT, transmits Erlichiosis. And the wood tick can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia but cases are rare in CT.

The Connecticut Experimental Agricultural Station (CEAS) has done a lot of research studying the tick population and the hot zones for Lyme disease, and they just released a map.

Every year, about 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC by state health departments. In 2017, however, there were more than 42,000 confirmed and probable cases of Lyme reported to federal health officials.

That includes 1,381 confirmed cases in Connecticut and 670 probable cases.

Doctors say you’ll see a red rash or bullseye and that’s when you need to get to the doctor. Initially, you’ll feel flu-like symptoms with chills and fever, but if left untreated it can get pretty nasty in your bloodstream.

When ticks hatch from eggs, they have to “eat blood at every stage to survive,” according to the CDC. They range in size from less than one-eighth of an inch up to about five-eighth of an inch. And they find their hosts like a highly skilled assassin, detecting breath, body odor, body heat, moisture and vibration.

“Some species can even recognize a shadow,” the CDC wrote. “In addition, ticks pick a place to wait by identifying well-used paths. Then they wait for a host, resting on the tips of grasses and shrubs.”

Peak incidence for Lyme disease is among children.

Doctors at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center who say Lyme disease is very tricky. It’s the small deer tick that’s hard to see that gives you the disease when it bites you.

Dr. Nicholas Bennet from the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center said it can affect your heart rate and even slow it down.

“You can get facial nerve palsy and it can affect other nerves, it can give you crazy wicked headaches, and if it’s not treated long enough it can develop into chronic relapsing arthritis,” Dr. Bennet said.

Jeff Linton, Interim Superintendent of Region 10 Schools (Burlington and Harwinton) said the State of Connecticut has seen a substantial increase in ticks in all communities, especially in Region 10.

“I have asked all staff to exercise extra caution, particularly with field days, outside recess, wellness classes and any other outdoor class activities. Staff and students who are part of outside events have been asked to check for ticks. If a tick is found on your child you will be notified. Please remember to use extra care and attention on grass and mulch areas both at home and in public areas.” said Linton.

Dog-owners and most people who grew up in tick hotbeds know how dangerous they can be. Lyme disease, for one, is transmitted by the blacklegged tick in the Northeast.

If you find a tick, remove it as soon as possible using fine-tipped tweezers. Make sure to pull straight up with steady, even pressure to ensure part of the tick doesn’t break off in the skin. Once it’s out, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

Connecticut is entering its beauty time. Get out and enjoy it. Just don’t get bit!

For More Information:

CDC Lyme Disease Information
CT Department of Public Health Lyme Disease Page
Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Tick Information
CDC Information about Other Tickborne Diseases

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