(WFSB) - A new study assessed the areas in Connecticut with the greater risk for Lyme disease.
The study was published in the journal Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases and found that there was a strong prevalence of the agent that causes the disease in ticks submitted by certain residents across the state.
Analysis by Dr. Eliza Little, a postdoctoral scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, found that while residents in densely populated counties of Fairfield and New Haven submitted the highest number of ticks, the prevalence of infected ticks was greater in the least populated counties of Windham, Tolland, and New London, where the incidence of Lyme disease was also highest.
Researchers looked at more than 30,000 deer tick submissions over the last 20 years.
“The primary aim of this study was to determine if passively collected data on human-biting ticks in Connecticut could serve as a useful proxy for Lyme disease incidence based on cases reported to the Connecticut Department of Public Health,” said Dr. Goudarz Molaei, a research scientist and senior author on the paper who also directs the CAES Tick Testing Program.
Annual infection rates from young ticks ranged from 15 to 41 percent with a 20 year average of 21 percent. Adult ticks ranged from 27 to 39 percent with an average of 33 percent.
“The results of this study underscore the value of our state-supported Tick Testing Program which is highly predictive of Lyme disease incidence for each town or county and may effectively be used to guide informed decisions concerning prevention and treatment of tick-borne diseases” said Dr. Theodore Andreadis, director of CAES.
Molaei said on Tuesday that the state is in the midst of peak activity season for deer ticks.
“Reducing exposure to ticks by using tick repellants when hiking or camping and conducting tick checks remain the best defense against Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections," he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne disease in the U.S. and affects an estimated 329,000 people each year.
It ranked Connecticut 14th among states from which 95 percent of Lyme disease cases are reported.
Landscaper Brandon Hyde told Channel 3 he is currently being treated for Lyme Disease, and was likely bit by a deer tick five years ago.
“The biggest thing is joint pain. Which I had quite a bit of and still have some," Hyde said, adding that he also complained of headaches.
Besides checking yourself and your children when outside, experts advise using repellent products.
“So its important to check ourselves to wear clothing or to spray yourself," Hyde said.
More information on the state's tick testing program can be found here.