With the advent of warm weather, tick season is upon us again. In our area, tick bites can cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and babesiosis. If you find an engorged blacklegged (deer) tick on yourself or a family member, you can bring it to the Ridgefield Health Department at 66 Prospect Street to be tested.  Drop the tick off in a plastic vial or Ziploc bag; test results are returned in 7-10 days. Approximately one-third of the ticks tested are usually positive for Lyme disease. If you get a positive result or display symptoms, it’s important to consult a health care provider. Early symptoms of Lyme disease include a red rash around the bite, muscle aches, fatigue, and fever. Anaplasmosis and babesiosis cause similar symptoms, although no rash. There are no vaccines for tick-borne diseases and you can suffer from these infections multiple times.

To minimize the chances of a tick bite, the Ridgefield Health Department encourages people to follow the BLAST safety tips: Bathe or shower within two hours of outdoor activity; look for ticks and rashes daily; apply repellent to skin and clothing; spray the yard; and treat pets with veterinarian-recommended products. Effective repellents for humans contain 20%-30% DEET to apply on skin or permethrin, which is used to chemically treat clothing. As an extra precaution, throw outdoor clothing in a hot dryer for 10 minutes if dry, an hour if wet, to prevent ticks from being carried indoors.

For more information, check out the town health department website, Blastlyme.org and LymeConnection.org. A free program on Lyme disease prevention is being held at the Ridgefield Library on May 6 at 10 a.m. featuring Dr. Neeta Connally, an adviser to the BLAST prevention program and a WestConn biology professor. Register online through the Ridgefield Library.