FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — As temperatures soar and kids enjoy spring break, beware of a danger lurking outside in the backyards, parks and woods of Fairfield County: Ticks.
Experts are predicting that this could be a bad year for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses in Connecticut. That's because an unusually high number of ticks have already tested positive this spring for the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
Here are some tips — from the experts at the Connecticut Department of Public Health — for protecting yourself, your kids and your pets from ticks:
- Wear light-colored clothing (so you can spot the ticks), long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Create a “tick barrier” by tucking your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants.
- Use insect repellent, according to manufacturer’s instructions, when outdoors.
- Check clothing and skin carefully after outdoor activities.
- Remove any ticks you find as soon as possible.
- Mow your lawn, cut down brush and clear dead leaves away from your home.
- Put down a woodchip barrier between any wooded areas and your yard.
- Inspect pets daily and remove any ticks found.
What should you do if you find a tick on yourself, your kid or your pet? Here are tips for removing a tick from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick.
- If the mouthparts break off, try again to remove with tweezers. If you are unable to remove it, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, clean the area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
The tick can then be sent for testing for Lyme. Residents should submit ticks to their municipal health departments.
The health departments then submit them to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station with a request for identification and/or testing for the Lyme disease agent.
Contact information for local health departments can be found online or by calling the Department of Public Health at 860 509-7660.
The following information should accompany the tick: Name, address, and telephone number of person submitting the tick; name, age, and sex of person bitten; date tick was removed; part of body where tick was found; and town in which tick was acquired.
The tick should be packaged in a small zipper-locking plastic bag or in a clear plastic vial with a tight-fitting lid.
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’ received more than 350 ticks in March, up from 32 in March 2016, the Norwich Bulletin reported .
Of those, 38 percent tested positive for Lyme disease — higher than the usual 28 percent to 32 percent, the Bulletin said.
Click here for more information on submitting ticks for testing.