State scientists in Connecticut are sounding the alarm about the rising number of ticks and the potential of people contracting multiple tick-borne diseases.
Goudarz Molaei, a research scientist for the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and the director of tick and tick-borne disease surveillance in Connecticut, said there has been a spike in invasive species of ticks coming into Connecticut since 2017. It is only expected to continue rising.
One such tick, the Asian Longhorned Tick, can reproduce without mating with a male partner, it lays all female eggs and the cycle continues. Just one tick can carry multiple tick-borne pathogens.
“A couple of weeks ago in our laboratory, we found out that this tick is infected with all three pathogens for Lyme disease, Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis,” said Molaei.
This is concerning to doctors who said all these different types of ticks can cause multiple diseases that can be dangerous and even lethal. The most common is Lyme Disease and it can cause a bullseye rash, as well as flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, joint pain, loss of appetite, and neck stiffness.
“It is very treatable if caught. And so you should not have any lingering symptoms if you have been treated with Lyme disease. But sometimes if untreated, most people actually do okay, if untreated. But there is very, very small percentage that goes on to have what we call a I'm going to say late disease and most of those result in what we call arthralgias or joint pain that may be persistent,” said Dr. Ulysses Wu, Hartford Healthcare’s system director of infectious diseases, chief epidemiologist and chief antimicrobial steward.
Here in Connecticut, there are three peak seasons for tick activity, according to Molaei. Adult black-legged ticks start to peak in late April into the month of May. Then juvenile ticks peak in June and early July. Adults are active again in late October into November.
Doctors recommend people take a proactive approach and wear long pants or long sleeve shirts, use repellant and check themselves and their pets regularly, especially in the crevices.