Travelers to areas of the East Coast and other regions typically at high risk for the ticks that transmit Lyme disease should exercise extra vigilance this summer. The tick population is up.
"Preliminary sampling indicates that the number of ticks collected is about 40% higher than last year," says Richard Falco, a medical entomologist at Fordham University who samples Westchester County and other New York areas and is an advisor to the American Lyme Disease Foundation.
Residents of northeastern states have also reported a rise, according to the New York Times. On Fire Island, for instance, people said they wear long sleeves and multiple pairs of socks just to garden.
While it is too soon to say whether the tick population will remain high, Falco says travelers should be careful to use preventive techniques, such as wearing long sleeves, tucking pant legs into socks, applying insect repellent and checking companions for ticks--even in city parks. His team found infected ticks in a Bronx park.
Left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to joint disease, neurological problems and other complications. A vaccine against the disease, called LYMErix, has recently become available.