The Tick Testing Program at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) is reporting higher tick abundance and infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease and other tick-borne pathogens this spring throughout Connecticut.
According to program director Dr. Goudarz Molaei, of the more than 450 ticks CAES has received so far this year, nearly 38 percent have tested positive for Lyme disease spirochetes, 10 percent for Babesia microti, the causative agent of babesiosis, and 5 percent for Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the causative agent of human granulocytic anaplasmosis.
The higher tick abundance appears to be related to warmer winter temperatures in Connecticut during the last two years.
The greatest risk of being bitten exists in the spring, summer, and fall. However, adults may be out searching for a host any time winter temperatures are above freezing. Stages most likely to bite humans are nymphs and adult females.
There were 2,553 reported cases of Lyme disease, 286 cases of babesiosis, and 120 cases of human granulocytic anaplasmosis in Connecticut in 2015, the latest data available.
Over the past five years, the Tick Testing Laboratory has received 12,483 ticks from Connecticut residents or health departments for testing. On average, 27 percent tested positive for the Lyme disease agent.
“Although we have yet to reach peak tick activity this spring, adult deer ticks, Ixodes scapularis, are already active and biting residents in greater numbers,” said Dr. Theodore Andreadis, Director of CAES. “At this time of year, personal protection measures and conducting tick checks remain the most effective ways to reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases.”
Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vectorborne disease in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease affects an estimated 329,000 people in the U.S. each year and can cause severe damage to joints and the nervous system.
Detailed information about the Tick Testing Laboratory, personal protection measures, tick control measures, and tick-associated diseases can be found at the following websites: