Jul 15, 2013
06:49 AM
Connecticut Today

Coordinated Community Efforts Needed to Control Ticks and Spread of Lyme Disease

Coordinated Community Efforts Needed to Control Ticks and Spread of Lyme Disease

A recent article in the Boston Globe talks about the Lyme Disease epidemic in New England, and the challenges in coordinating region-wide efforts to help stem the tide of what is becoming a major public health issue.

The disease, transmitted primarily through bites from deer ticks, has seen a sharp upswing in the past decade as deer populations across the state have exploded. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2011 (the most recent year that Lyme Disease statistics are available) Connecticut recorded more than 3,000 cases of Lyme Disease, or an incident rate of about 56 per 100,000 residents, among the highest in the nation. Other states across the Northeast were afflicted with similarly high totals.

From the Boston Globe article:

This regional epidemic has yet to trigger a broad public health response on par with prevention blitzes aimed at some other pervasive maladies. That is partly because ticks are a devious foe. Vacation spots are often loath to publicize the threat for fear of scaring off business, and the public and politicians often do not perceive Lyme as a serious malady. The result is a lopsided spending gap between prevention efforts for tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses.

Various locales have gone with different approaches to dealing with the problem, from task forces and deer-eradication programs to increased community awareness and possible legislative solutions.

At the heart of the issue is how to control deer, who play a key role as host in the tick's life cycle and whose numbers continue to grow—in some suburbs in Connecticut, it's estimated that there are as many as 60 deer per square mile, so the chances of encountering deer ticks are very high. One of the most effective methods to limit the deer is increased hunting, but that issue is fraught with controversy, with passionate and vocal groups well-organized on both sides.

Even if that issue is decided, no one has really stepped forward to establish a coordinated, region-wide tick-control program, which will be needed sooner rather than later if the numbers of those infected by Lyme Disease continue to rise.

To read the full Boston Globe article, click here.

Coordinated Community Efforts Needed to Control Ticks and Spread of Lyme Disease

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