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Lyme Disease Still A Threat In Greenwich

GREENWICH, Conn.-- Lyme disease cases have dropped over the last few years due to better habits, but the Greenwich Department of Health still considers it a threat, lab assistant Ben Pinkert said.

"We had three cases in 2011, and six the year before that, so it's definitely decreasing," he said. "Right now the rates are 4.9 cases for every 100,000 people."

Lyme-carrying ticks are in their nymph stage at this point in the summer, which means the ticks are very tiny and can go unnoticed on the skin, according to a Health Department news release. In recent years, Fairfield County has reported the highest number of Lyme disease cases in the state. Pinkert says that he thinks there has been a few cases of Lyme this year in Greenwich, but the data for 2012 isn't available yet.

Though they're called deer ticks, Pinkert says that smaller critters like rodents and chipmunks are usually the ones who carry the diseased ticks.

"They're called deer ticks because usually deer are the ones that have them, but they are often transported by smaller animals," he said.

Antibiotics can be very effective in treating the disease, but Pinkert says that some continue to have symptoms even after treatment.

"It can cause neurological symptoms, and some don't respond to treatment. It's still a big issue," he said.

Pomerantz Park in Greenwich is one area of Lyme disease concern because it's wooded and that's where ticks like to live, Pinkert said.

Using an insect repellant containing DEET, tucking pant bottoms into socks and regularly checking pets, children and yourself for ticks are some of the best prevention measures, according to the release.

"There's more awareness, and people are finally starting to pick up good habits when going outside, but it's definitely still a threat," Pinkert said.

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