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New tick surveillance program launched

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station will be collecting ticks in a new statewide program studying the insects' numbers and prevalence of diseases they carry.

The new initiative was announced Thursday in a news release. While the focus will be on blacklegged or deer ticks, other species include American dog ticks, which can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever; Asian longhorn ticks, which are abundant in areas in nearby New York; and lone star ticks. The insects will be collected from 40 sites across Connecticut's eight counties from April through October.

Experiment station Director Theodore Andreadis said funding for the initiative was received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state Department of Public Health. He said it would allow the station to "monitor tick populations throughout the state and obtain an accurate assessment on the distribution and prevalence of emerging tick-borne pathogens," including the Powassan virus and those that cause diseases such as Lyme, babesiosis and anaplasmosis.

Incidences of human illness and encounters with tick species are increasing, the release said. The new initiative will complement the experiment station's current Tick Testing Program, which has focused on Lyme disease since 1990.

For more information on ticks and the station's related programs, visit bit.ly/CAESticks.

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