With a mild winter and a large population of mice, officials at the state Agricultural Experiment Station were expecting large numbers of Lyme Disease-infected ticks this summer. Director Theodore Andreadis says they were right.
They are seeing a 7 to 8 percent increase than in the past of higher levels of pathogens. Andreadis says an astronomical number of ticks are coming into their lab for testing. Since February, over 5,000 ticks have been submitted for testing.
Danbury residents have submitted 33 ticks to the City Health Department for Lyme Disease testing since the service began in April. Results from the state Agricultural Experiment Station are communicated, in writing, to the submitter. There is a $5 fee to defray the administrative cost of the program.
Usually during a course of a year, they test 3,000 ticks. Andreadis says the increase was seen throughout the Northeast. He's calling it a regional phenomenon. Andreadis says the primary focus has been controlling ticks and preventing infections. The program started 20 years ago. It's been enhanced over the past two years.
The Agricultural Experiment Station doesn't currently charge a fee, but Danbury officials cautioned that that may change because of the state's fiscal problems.
The facility receives funding from the CDC and USDA, but Andreadis says they need more funding to prevent more people from becoming infected.
City Health Director Lisa Michelle Morrissey says this is mostly for peace of mind for the resident, not necessarily to track where the tick was found to put up warnings.
The Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Laboratory at West Conn reported in May that its weekly sampling for deer ticks reached the highest population level recorded since the lab initiated field monitoring in 2011. During the last week of May, field samples collected on average 303 percent more deer ticks than in the same week in 2016. Over a longer timeframe, the record deer tick numbers in the final week of May showed a dramatic surge of 1,021 percent from the comparable week in 2014.
The West Conn lab has monitored deer tick populations on a weekly basis at sites in Danbury, Ridgefield and Newtown from May through August every year since 2011.