Tick concerns garner attention of lawmakers - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Tick concerns garner attention of lawmakers

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(WFSB file) (WFSB file)

A big uptick in the tick population this summer has some people looking to Washington for answers to a potential health crisis.

Experts have described this tick season as one of the worst in years. They blame the uptick on two consecutive mild winters.

"The problem is not going away, it's going to be with us. It does represent a serious threat," Dr. Theodore Andreadis with Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station said. There is virtually no area in Connecticut that you could venture into and not get exposed to ticks."

Blumenthal, along with researchers and Lyme disease patients, will talk about steps being taken in the nation's capital to give people access to more resources and ease any concerns they might have.

"I never saw a tick, never had a rash, just various symptoms from one day to another," Sara Tyghter with Global Lyme Alliance said. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of Lyme disease cases has tripled nationwide to about 30,000 each year.

In Connecticut and across New England, the tick population has soared. According to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, over the last five years, they tested 12,000 ticks with 27 percent coming back positive for Lyme disease.

Just this year alone, they've tested 5,000 ticks with 38 percent testing positive for Lyme disease. That was jump of more than 10 percent in just one year. 

On Wednesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal addressed concerns and highlighting what the government is doing to help. Blumenthal said lawmakers are in the process of establishing a tick-borne disease working group that will push for more research. Experts said there also needs to be more of an emphasis on controlling the tick population. 

"Really that's the first line of defense," Andreadis said. "If you can prevent people from getting exposed to ticks, they're never going to contract the disease."

Until then, those living with the disease such as Tyghter, stressed to folks outside to check themselves and check often. 

"Checking under your arms, behind ears, your scalp, groin area, belly button and legs, behind your knees," Tyghter said. "Those are all some of the places ticks like to hide and they're hard to see."

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