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Ticks Make Early Entrance in Easton

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Spring has barely sprung in Fairfield County, but summer is in the air. That means ticks are in the grass. And in the bushes. And in the woods.

The unusually warm – and seemingly brief – winter means that along with daffodils and lilacs, ticks will be making an early appearance. In mostly suburban Connecticut, the concern about ticks and Lyme disease is ever present.

“There is a lot of tick activity,” said Kirby Stafford of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “With this early spring you just see a lot more activity.”

It’s the adult ticks that are moving, Stafford said. Because they’re easier to spot, that decreases the chance of contracting Lyme disease, although there is always a chance.

It’s the nymphal ticks, or the juvenile, that will be a bigger problem. “We expect to see a lot of the nymphal ticks this year,” Stafford said. Its food source – rodents and birds – enjoyed a warm winter.

Wilton Department of Health Director Steven Schole said the best way to prevent Lyme is to do regular body checks for ticks – especially if you spend time outside.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that in 2010, 94 percent of Lyme disease cases were reported from 12 states, Connecticut and New York among them.

About three-quarters of the Lyme disease­ cases reported are associated with being in the back yard, Stafford said.

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even if only briefly and in your own yard. When you've left a potentially tick-infested area, search your entire body for ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any ticks you find. Take special care to check these parts of your child's and your body for ticks:

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears.
  • Inside the belly button.
  • Back of the knees.
  • In and around all head and body hair.
  • Between the legs.
  • Around the waist.
  • Ticks can be carried into the house on clothing and pets so both should be examined carefully. Placing clothes into a dryer on high heat kills ticks.

If you do find a tick on you and you’re concerned it may have Lyme, Schole said residents can take the tick, in a plastic bag, to the Department of Health, which will send it to be tested.

“You can’t send it in yourself. The local health department has to,” Schole said.

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