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.

RI Tick Population Continues To Rise

Jun 24, 2014

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.

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.


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.

The RI Department of Environmental Management says in a statement today that a weekly sampling of mosquitoes collected from a swamp in Westerly tested positive for West Nile virus. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hermetically seal yourself, your kids, and your pets inside until the first frost. But the presence of West Nile and other diseases transmitted by so-called “vectors” like mosquitoes and ticks in our area should mean you take a few precautions before venturing into the great outdoors.