Report: Tick levels remain steady in ‘22

Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 4:37 PM EST
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermonters will spend time outside no matter the weather, but even in the colder months, it’s important to be thinking about ticks. A new report from the Agency of Agriculture says the state’s tick population remains steady, or in some instances went down.

Residents out walking their dogs in Williston Tuesday said ticks are something they are starting to think about 12 months out of the year.

Leo Leach says twice this fall he found more than six ticks on him while working in the woods. To avoid them, he’s made some adjustments. “I am more conscious of it, and I’m staying out of the woods,” Leach said.

The Agency of Agriculture recently finished its tick data for 2022. “The overall numbers sort of smoothed out across the state. It appears to be a little less this year, but like I said, some areas -- they are just booming and other areas dropping off,” said the agency’s Patti Casey. She says they are still perfecting their tick surveillance methods but that the findings are consistent with other areas in the Northeast. “There are these micro local concentrations of ticks.”

Casey says canvassing this year showed they appear to be on the move in the Northeast and that is likely related to environmental factors. “Changing landscape as we urbanize or suburbanize areas; changes in agriculture, peoples gardens, peoples woodpiles,” she said

She says the percentage of ticks that have the pathogen that causes Lyme disease remains steady at about 54%. Larvae and nymph numbers appear down this year, which could be a good sign for next year. But Casey says one thing is certain, there are a lot of conversations regionally about what can be done to control the populations. “The focus now is on control measures going forward -- which everyone is interested in,” she said.

But while officials try to determine the best course for the future, those out enjoying the outdoors say they just plan to be careful. “Part of me thinks there isn’t much we can do about it. We just have to be careful when we go out in the woods,” Leach said.

Experts say the best way to protect yourself includes wearing light-colored long pants, high socks, and long sleeves. Also, use EPA-registered tick repellents or permethrin-treated clothes. And, make sure to do a tick check once you get inside.

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