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.
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.
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.
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.