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New tick threats emerging in Connecticut, new report says

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    NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) — Nearly half of the adult ticks tested last season in Connecticut had Lyme disease, according to state scientists.

However, that wasn’t the only threat from the parasites.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station announced on Thursday the results of its first statewide tick surveillance effort.

It said it collected more than 2,500 ticks throughout the spring, summer and fall of 2019 from 40 different public places across the state.

Scientists screened for five different human-disease-causing pathogens, including Lyme disease.

“Well, certainly we see a lot of cases in Fairfield, New Haven County, but Lym disease is of course evident. These pathogens are distributed across the entire state, so anybody outdoors is at risk,” said Dr. Kirby Stafford, Chief Entomologist, Ct Agricultural Experiment Station.

In addition to the common deer ticks and American dog ticks, two emerging species were collected, including three lone star ticks and two Asian longhorned ticks.

“The adult stage of our black legged tick or Lyme tick doesn’t hibernate. So, it’ll be active even on warm days in the winter, so we can have a beautiful weekend here coming up, this tick will be active,” Dr. Stafford said.

Because this winter was a mild on, it’s likely more ticks survived.

“Fewer of them were killed and then they can become active earlier and have a better chance to find deer or a human or something to find a blood meal, that gives them an extended window,” said Dr. Scott Williams, Research Scientist for the CT Agricultural Experiment Station.

According to the CAES, Fairfield County had the highest infection rates for all pathogens in adult ticks. Litchfield Country had the highest in nymphal blacklegged ticks.


Adults Nymphs
Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease) 46% 15%
Babesia microti (babesiosis) 13% 6%
Anaplasma phagocytophilum (anaplasmosis) 9% 5%
Borrelia miyamotoi (hard tick relapsing fever) 2% 2%
Powassan virus (Powassan encephalitis) 1% –
Survey results demonstrate, the CAES said, that lone star and Asian longhorned ticks are emerging in Connecticut. According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, there were three confirmed human cases of hard tick relapsing fever and five human cases of Powassan encephalitis in 2019.

However, Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis continue to be the major tick-borne diseases of concern for Connecticut residents.

The hope is that this study can continue on a year to year basis so that the public can be informed and take correct precautions when heading outside.

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