Bristol and Warren residents could be facing a higher-than-normal risk of Lyme disease this summer, as the region's tick population has increased dramatically.
That's the message from Dr. Thomas Mather, director of the URI Center for Vector-Borne Disease and TickEncounter Resource Center, who reported on Friday that Bristol saw a triple-digit percentage increase in ticks found at 18 survey sites.
The numbers are similar throughout Rhode Island. Statewide, researchers are finding 80 percent more ticks than last year, nearly doubling the risk of contracting tick-borne diseases.
"We've had perfect tick weather during May and June, which means that few ticks were killed off, and that's keeping the numbers high throughout the region for now," Mather said in a statement.
The TickEncounter website, www.tickencounter.org, provides a growing catalog of TickSmart tools, including an interactive tick identification chart, shower cards for prompting daily tick checks, tick encounter risk maps, and many other TickSmart strategies for protecting yourself, your pets and your yard from ticks.
To help prevent tick bites, be sure to wear long pants tucked into socks when venturing into the woods or areas where ticks frequent. Wear insect repellent that specifies it defends against ticks. Do daily checks of yourself and your loved ones to ensure none of the blood-sucking parasites are clinging on.