CONNECTICUT — It’s barely spring, but adult ticks, which can transmit a host of serious illnesses, are already actively latching onto people and their pets in most areas of the country
Many of the insects emerging with spring temperatures play important roles in ecosystems and are harmless to people and animals. Scientists say a healthy tick population is an indicator of an ecosystem’s overall health and stability, and they are an important food source for many reptiles, birds and amphibians.
But friends of humans, felines and canines and other red-blooded mammals? Ticks are not — well, most of them aren’t. Not all ticks bite. Those that do are the American dog tick, blacklegged tick, brown dog tick, Gulf Coast tick, lone star tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick and Western blacklegged tick.
Biting-tick species that can transmit severe and sometimes fatal illnesses that are found in Connecticut include the American dog tick, blacklegged tick, brown dog tick and lone star tick.
Doc on blacklegged ticks.
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Ticks are active anytime the weather is above freezing, but especially from March to mid-May and from mid-August to November. Adult ticks and nymphs can transmit tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and a few other serious ailments.
These disease-carrying bloodsuckers are enough of a problem in the Northeast that tick bites accounted for 103 of every 100,000 emergency room visits last year.
So far in 2022, tick bites have accounted for 103 of every 100,000 emergency room visits in the Northeast.
More About Tick-Borne Illnesses
Lyme disease: If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause a wide range of symptoms, depending on the state of infection, including fever, rash, facial paralysis and arthritis. Other symptoms, in absence of a rash, include chills, headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint aches and swollen lymph nodes.
Every state in the country has reported at least one case of Lyme disease in 2019, the latest date for which complete data is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lyme disease outbreaks were most common in the Northeast. Lyme disease is spread by blacklegged tick species.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever: Most people who get sick with this illness experience a fever, headache and rash. If not treated with the right antibiotic early, it can be fatal. Before tetracycline antibiotics were available, Rocky Mountain spotted fever fatality rates ranged from 20 percent to 80 percent, according to the CDC.
Cases are found throughout the continental United States, but five states — Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia — account for more than 50 percent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is transmitted by a variety of ticks, depending on the region of the United States.
Powassan virus diseases: Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting and general weakness, usually progressing to meningoencephalitis, a very serious neurological condition resembling both meningitis and encephalitis with symptoms that include mental confusion, seizures, paralysis and palsies. If left untreated, it can lead to death.
U.S. cases of Powassan virus diseases have been reported primarily in Northeast and Great Lakes states.
Ehrlichiosis: There are three strains of this illness, one of them potentially deadly. Fatal cases of ehrlichiosis are highest among children around 10 and adults around 70, according to the CDC.
It’s most reported in the Southeast and South Central United States, but three states — Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas — account for 35 percent of all cases.