It’s already a bad summer for ticks and state officials have more bad news – the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station report that a heavy population of the lone star tick has been detected in Manresa Island in South Norwalk.
The presence of the lone star tick in South Norwalk first showed up in June 2017, after a report of a deer acting strangely. The deer had suffered from a severe infestation of ticks. The discovery marked the first known established reproducing of the lone star tick in Connecticut.
If bitten by lone star tick, people can develop an allergy to red meat. It is also associated with other human and animal diseases such as ehrlichiosis and spotted fever rickettsiosis. The species doesn't transmit Lyme disease.
“This tick has a painful bite and causes severe inflammation which is why if exposed to this tick bite it has severe ramifications,” said Dr. Goudarz Molaei, a Connecticut Agricultural Station research scientist.
Molaei said the lone star tick has been slowly moving northward. Until now, the numbers in Connecticut have remained small, and mostly in lower Fairfield County.
The ticks have already established a population on Long Island, and experts believe Connecticut residents could have picked them up while vacationing there or points further south.
“Even if it hasn’t already moved towards inland, but it does appear that soon this tick is going to be a major problem in other regions as well,” Molaei said.
Lone star ticks are reddish-brown in color and get their names from a spot on the back of female ticks. Their presence is a concern for many, especially parents with young kids.
“That’s scary because my son plays outside a lot and he’s at that age where he likes to dig into sand and dirt... I hate it, he loves it. So that’s really scary knowing that risk factor, the things that it could do to your body,” said New Haven resident Jyne Banderbergh, who has a 4-year-old son.
The doctor said if you do come in contact with a lone star tick to contact your doctor and make sure the inflammation doesn’t lead to any kind of infection. The lone star tick is the most common human-biting tick in the southeastern part of the US.
To avoid a tick bite, experts recommend wearing light-colored clothing, long pants and shirts and tuck pants into socks. You should also use a bug spray with DEET on all exposed skin and on clothing.