NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– This time of year, most of us spend more time outdoors, and that means we have a higher chance of running into ticks. That chance keeps getting higher every year.
According to experts the reason for that is climate change. Scientists who study ticks are busier than ever. At the Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, they study and test ticks dropped off by the public. Last April, people dropped off about 400 ticks.
“This year, as of today, we have received over one thousand in one month,” said Dr. Goudarz Molaei, the station’s resident tick expert.
Milder winters mean more ticks survive year to year. That kind of climate change also means ticks that used to live only in the south are now here in Connecticut. The Lone Star tick has moved from just Fairfield county to other parts of the state.
Last year, two new species showed up in Connecticut: The Asian Longhorned tick and the Gulf Coast tick.
“This Gulf Coast tick is responsible for transmitting an emerging disease that is called Rickettsiosis,” Dr. Goudarz said. “It is similar to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.”
Fortunately, Rickettsiosis is less serious than Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but unfortunately, about a third of those Gulf Coast ticks carry Rickettsiosis. When it comes to the much more common tick that spreads Lyme disease, the percentage is even worse.
“If we are talking about the black legged tick or deer tick and Lyme disease, we are seeing that the prevalence of infection in some states in the northeastern United States is nearly 50%.”
If you do go outside, stay out of tall grass, and walk in the middle of paths. Check yourself for ticks when you are done and remove them as soon as possible. Better yet, don’t get them in the first place. Use bug spray whenever you are heading outside.