In April of 2020, the Experiment Station, which tests ticks here in Connecticut, received 436 of the bugs. This year, over 745 ticks had been submitted in April.
“It’s going to be an especially bad year for ticks,” says Bay Street Pediatrics Dr. Lori Storch Smith. “Being aware of where ticks are found, how to avoid and repel them and how to treat them if you find them on your loved ones is extremely important, particularly this summer.”
What kinds of ticks are there in Connecticut?
The three ticks of most concern are:
- Black legged or deer tick
- Lone star tick
- Dog or wood tick
Are all ticks dangerous?
Unfortunately, nearly all ticks can spread disease and different ticks transmit different illnesses. These diseases may be caused by a virus, a bacteria or a parasite and there are no vaccines to prevent these diseases. However, removing a tick from a bite site within 24 hours minimizes the chance of infection.
How can my family avoid tick bites?
With a few simple precautions, your family can evade ticks.
When visiting wooded areas, stay in the center of well-worn paths. Stay away from low vegetation and brush-filled areas. Wear hats, long sleeves and long pants, tucking cuffs into socks. Wear light colored clothing so if you do pick up some nasty companions, they are easily picked off and discarded before they enter your car, home or laundry basket.
If you live in a wooded area, make sure your child’s play area is free of underbrush, leaves and tall grasses and is surrounded by a 3 foot wide border of gravel.
Apply a trust-worthy repellent to skin, clothing and any gear. While DEET is the gold standard, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 30% DEET in repellent used on children. A DEET repellent will need to be reapplied every 3-5 hours. Repellents containing picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are also effective, but will need to be reapplied every 2 hours or more.
NOTE – if your child or anyone in your family has an allergic reaction to a repellent, wash the repellent off immediately and call our office.
Brush everyone off before you get into the car or house.
How will we know if someone was bitten by a tick?
When ticks bite, they tend to hold on. When your family has finished outdoor adventures, shower immediately and then do a complete body check. Look at armpits, groin, in the hair, bellybuttons, and behind the knees.
From head to toe, look for a small red bump. You may also see a red area with a dark spot in the middle. Tick bites typically do not hurt or itch, so it’s vital to do a body check to remove them as soon as possible. Ticks are tiny, sometimes the size of a poppy seed, so you may not see a “bug” in the bite.
What do we do for a tick bite?
Removing the tick within the first 24 hours after a bite will dramatically lower or eliminate the risk of any transmission of disease.
Remove the tick by using clean fine-tipped tweezers. Grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull straight up with steady pressure. Wash the area with warm water, soap and a squirt of alcohol.
Call our office within 72 hours of removing a tick, or if you aren’t sure how long the tick has been attached and you think it could have been attached for more than 36 hours. We will discuss with you if prescribing a dose of prophylactic antibiotics would be appropriate.
“From April to September, whenever the weather is warm, our families need to be on the alert for ticks,” says Dr. Lori. “Taking steps to prevent tick bites is the best way to eliminate the risk of tick-borne diseases.”
Questions about ticks and symptoms of illness or disease? Please call our office at 203-227-3674. We will be happy to help!