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RIPR FILE

A tick researcher at the University of Rhode Island will use $2 million in federal grant funding to study tick repellent clothing. Professor Tom Mather plans to test garments that have been treated with a chemical called permethrin. If it’s effective, Mather said it could have serious public health benefits.

“Ticks up here transmit multiple diseases,” said Mather. “Lyme disease is of course what everyone hears about, but just as dangerous probably more dangerous are some of the infections that black legged ticks in our area carry.”

KRISTIN GOURLAY / RIPR

Newport Hospital has opened a new center for Lyme disease. Most doctors can treat Lyme with antibiotics, but the new clinic aims to help patients with lingering symptoms.

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island is in the midst of the most dangerous tick-season of the year. University of Rhode Island researchers say there are more of the insects this year than last year. The arachnids are most prevalent in May, but URI tick specialist Tom Mather, says mid-summer carries the highest risk.

“What we face now is a dangerous period, which is when nymphal-stage deer ticks are active, and these are ticks that are the size of poppy seeds, and they are loaded with pathogens,” said Mather.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The Rhode Island Blood Center will lay off 60 people by this fall. That’s to help cover the cost of screening for a tick-borne disease that’s on the rise in Rhode Island: babesiosis.

Babesiosis  causes flu-like symptoms in some, but it can be life-threatening for the elderly or people with weak immune systems. It spreads through tick bites and blood transfusions. It's become the top transfusion-transmitted disease in the country, and it's endemic in Rhode Island.

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Town officials on Block Island are calling the recent deer hunting season a success. Local hunters took down more than 400 deer.

Block Island has a high incidence of Lyme disease, transmitted by the bite of a deer tick. So last year the town of New Shoreham and the Department of Environmental Management hired a professional sharpshooting company, Connecticut-based White Buffalo, Inc., to curb the island’s large deer population. But the project fell through.

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Deer-hunting on a state-owned parcel of land on Block Island opens today. Brian Tefft, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Environmental Management, said the deer hunting season has been underway on the island since early October, but…

  “This is a special lottery-only hunt for one parcel of state land located on Block Island in an effort to assist the town with the reduction of deer on the island,” Tefft said.

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The annual deer hunting season is gearing up on Block Island. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza tells us, the hunt on the Black Rock/Rodman Hollow parcel of land opens on Jan. 20.

The Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Fish and Wildlife will set up a deer checking station at the Block Island Police Station in preparation for next week. The hunting season opens Jan. 20 and lasts until Feb. 13. This deer checking station will be open on certain days during the season to check deer taken by hunters.

RI Tick Population Continues To Rise

Jun 24, 2014
RIPR FILE

After two record-breaking years in 2012 and 2013, the tick population in Rhode Island is continuing to rise.

Despite the harsh winter this year, the ticks in the state are thriving. The director of the University of Rhode Island's Tick Encounter Research Center Tom Mather blames the high counts on the cool and humid weather this spring. He said it's very important that people try to protect themselves from ticks.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Professional sharpshooters will descend on Block Island next week to cull the island’s deer population.

The Connecticut-based company hired to cull the deer population has been scattering bait since early February to lure deer to specific areas around Block Island.

State Managed Deer Hunt Begins On Block Island

Jan 20, 2014
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Starting Tuesday, the second annual state managed deer hunt will be held on Block Island.

It’s the only hunt of its kind on state-owned land. 

The four week hunt takes place on a one-hundred fifteen acre parcel of state-owned land known as Black Rock.

Any Rhode Islander with a state hunting license is eligible to take part in the hunt. However only six hunters will be allowed on the property per day; they’ll be chosen via a lottery system. The bag limit is eight deer per hunter.

Sharknado? For wimps. Ticknado? Run for cover!

But it's no laughing matter, says Tom Mather, resident tick expert at the University of Rhode Island. Fall means the return of disease-carrying deer ticks for a bit before the coldest temperatures finally send them underground. And that means there's still a risk of catching Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Block Island Health Service officials say the state Department of Health has agreed to meet with them about the steep increase in Lyme disease on the island. Island officials want the state to take a more active role in fighting the disease.

Block Island Health Services officials say they’ve seen 68 cases of Lyme disease through August of this year. That’s up from 48 for all of the previous year. Health service head Barbara Baldwin says she decided it was time to ask for some help.

Or, rather, summer activities, like swimming, or hiking through the woods.

To wit:

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

There’s a new tick-borne disease in town.

It’s like Lyme disease and has recently been spotted in the Northeastern United States, as well as in a few parts of the Upper Midwest.

The bacteria that causes this new disease is called Borrelia miyamotoi, and, like Lyme, it hitches a ride in ticks. It can cause something like the flu, or a fever that just keeps coming back. Scientists first identified it in Japan. But a couple of years ago, Yale researchers discovered it in deer ticks in New England.

Photo by: KRISTIN GOURLAY

The bacteria is called Borrelia miyamotoi, and, like Lyme disease, it hitches a ride in ticks. I'll have more on this in the coming days, but here's a heads up on some of the more unique features of this bug.

This bacteria can cause something like the flu, or a fever that just keeps coming back. You might have had it and not known it, or had it along side Lyme. Common antibiotics can cure it. But if your immune system is already weak, it could lead to some neurological damage.