The Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Laboratory at Western Connecticut State University is reporting the highest level of deer ticks since 2011.
The lab has monitored the deer tick population weekly at sites in Danbury, Ridgefield and Newtown from May through August since the program began in 2011.
Dr. Neeta Connally, director of the lab and associate professor of biological and environmental studies at WCSU, said in a release that weekly samples taken since May of this year have consistently increased levels higher than 2012 through 2016, and are reaching close to levels reported in 2011, which is the highest year on record so far.
On average the lab has collected 303 percent more nymphal deer ticks than in the same week in 2016, and 57 percent more than in 2015.
There are a variety of factors than can affect the tick population each year, including the number of tick hosts like deer and mice, and climate factors such as the amount of spring rainfall.
“While we are seeing an especially high number of ticks this season, it’s important to remember that in our region, every year is a risky year for Lyme disease and other tick-associated infections,” Connally said. “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.”
Pets should also be protected and checked for ticks after outdoor excursions.
The AP reports that tick numbers and the diseases they spread have been on the rise for some time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of Lyme disease cases has tripled to about 30,000 cases nationwide each year. Cases of anaplasmosis, which can cause fever, headache, chills and muscle aches, have also risen steadily.