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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT
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Greenwich Warns of Fall Lyme Disease Risk

GREENWICH, Conn. – You may want to think twice before letting your child jump into a pile of leaves. The Greenwich Health Department reminds residents that the tick season is not over.

“Since the fall season is abundant with ticks, all residents should protect themselves, especially when working in the yard raking leaves and planting bulbs,” said Caroline Calderone Baisley, town health director.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected black-legged tick, commonly known as the deer tick.

The Health Department’s laboratory continues to test deer ticks (dead and alive) for the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi , the causative agent of Lyme disease, and Babesia microti, the causative agent for babesiosis. In 2010-2011, the lab tested over 600 deer ticks for Borrelia and 568 for Babesia .

Of those checked for Lyme disease, 27% tested positive, while 3% were positive for Babesia . One percent tested positive for both. “Not all ticks are infected. However, it is important to remove ticks on the body carefully for testing. Analyzing ticks for pathogen organisms gives health-care providers another tool when considering treatment for their patients,” said Doug Serafin, laboratory director.

The occurrence of tick-borne disease is rising, not only within the town, but across the nation. In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 29,959 confirmed Lyme disease cases, along with 8,509 probable cases. Among the states with the most reports, Connecticut ranked fifth. In 2010, Connecticut reported a total of 1,964 confirmed Lyme disease cases, with 1,104 probably cases.

Along with other tick-associated diseases like babesiosis, Lyme disease can easily be acquired in any Connecticut town, particularly in areas that are wooded.

“By taking a few simple measures like checking for ticks on your body every day, everyone can still enjoy the outdoors and decrease their chances of being infected,” said Baisley. “It is also important to check your pets, wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be seen, and consider the use of insect repellent.”

Contact the Department of Health laboratory at 203-622-7843 for information about tick testing, Lyme disease, and babesiosis.

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