NH and VT are at Serious Risk When it Comes to Ticks
Jun 20, 2019 01:33PM
Fourteen different species of tick have been identified in Vermont, according to the Vermont Department of Health, and five of those are known to bite humans and can transmit diseases. More than 99 percent of all tickborne diseases reported to department are caused by only one tick: the blacklegged tick, which is frequently found in wooded areas and fields with tall grass and brush. It typically latches on to a variety of native hosts, including the white-footed mouse, deer mouse, chipmunks, shrews, and white-tailed deer.
People who are exposed to tick bites are at risk for contracting a few known diseases, including the pathogens that cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan virus disease, and Borrelia miyamotoi disease.
“In Vermont, blacklegged ticks usually become active in late March or early April after laying low during the cold winter months,” the department of health continues. “Their peak activity typically occurs in May and June when nymphal ticks are looking for a host. Tick activity increases again in October and November when adult ticks are looking for another host before cold winter temperatures set in.
“Although blacklegged tick activity typically follows this pattern, it is important to note that these ticks might be encountered at any time of year when the temperature is above freezing.”
Vermont leads the nation in Lyme disease cases, according to the Burlington Free Press, “with a three-year average of 85.5 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents. It was the highest rate per capita in the nation as of May 2017.”
Chippers, a green care professional service that spans the Upper Valley, says in a recent blog post that the region is not immune. “Although the Seacoast Region in NH seems to be a hot spot for ticks and reportable diseases, the Upper Valley and western NH communities have shown an ever increasing rate of confirmed bites and diseases in recent years,” the blog says. “Chippers’ rate of proactive tick sprays has grown at unprecedented rates in recent years as the public’s awareness of the risks and incidence of tick bites increases.”
The CDC offers these tips to aid in prevention of getting bit and contracting a dangerous disease:
- Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals, so spending time outside camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.
- Treat clothing and gear with products containing permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear and remain protective through several washings.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellentsexternal iconcontaining DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search toolexternal icon can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions, especially with children.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
- If you work outdoors, find more information about protection at the NIOSH Tick-borne Diseases Workplace Safety and Health Topics.
- Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may attach to clothing. Remove any ticks and wash clothes or put them in dryer if damp. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, you may need to dry them longer. When washing clothes first, use hot water. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively.
- Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check when coming from potentially tick-infested areas, even your back yard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check you and your children for ticks after coming indoors.
- Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
If you find a tick, remove it as soon as you notice it and watch for signs of sickness in the days that follow. For more information, visit CDC.gov.