Tick season is here

While it seems like spring is playing hide-and-seek with us, the season officially started last week. It’s finally time to be outdoors again and that also means that tick season is back.

According to health officials, peak tick season is from April to September and children are at particularly high risk. So as we enter the busy tick season, awareness is important.

The incidence of Lyme disease is higher in children under age 10 than in any other age group. Most cases of Lyme disease are associated with the nymphal stage of the deer tick. Nymphs are small (about the size of a pinhead), difficult to spot, and are active during the late spring and summer months, when families are outdoors.

According to a 2011 study from the Centers for Disease Control, 96% of reported cases of Lyme disease occurred in 13 states, and Connecticut ranked at the top of that list. The CDC has also singled out Lyme disease as the most common and fastest growing vector-borne, infectious disease in the country.

The problem of Lyme disease is very real in Connecticut, and parents — and other adult caretakers — should keep an especially close watch on youngsters to lower the chance of a problem occurring in their family.

Bite back

The 5th Annual Westport Bite Back for A Cure Walk/Run, hosted by the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance, will be held rain or shine on Sunday, April 7, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.

The event, which will include 5K and 10K runs, as well as 1 1/2-mile and 3-mile walks, aims to increase awareness, promote advocacy and support initiatives to eradicate Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

Early registration fees are $25 per person and $70 per family. Registration information can be found at www.tbdalliance.org/walks.

On-site registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. April 7. On-site registration fees are $35 per person and $80 per family. Children under 10 are free.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal will make opening remarks at 10:30 a.m.

Runners will start at 11 a.m., followed by walkers at 11:15 a.m. The awards ceremony for the runners and the highest fundraisers will be at 12:30 p.m.

Information stations, music, food and more will be available.

According to a 2011 study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 96% of reported cases of Lyme disease occurred in 13 states, and Connecticut ranked at the top of that list. The CDC has also singled out Lyme disease as the most common and fastest growing vector-borne, infectious disease in the country. At this time, there are no vaccines to prevent Lyme disease or co-infections from occurring in the United States, and available diagnostic tools have proven to be unreliable. In addition, many sufferers of tick-borne illnesses are unaware they are even victims of these diseases due to a lack of understanding of the symptoms.

“Awareness is of utmost importance for prevention, early diagnosis and effective treatment,” said Orna Grand, organizer of the Westport walk. “All of us participating in the Westport Bite Back for a Cure Run/Walk on April 7 aim to better educate the public about how to protect themselves from these devastating diseases. Everyone who lives in Connecticut and other Lyme saturated areas would benefit from knowing what a tick looks like, how to remove it and what to do if you do find one.”

Grand can be reached at 203-454-4024 or [email protected]

“To stop tick-borne diseases from spreading, we must all work together,” said David Roth, co-chairman of the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance. “The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance was created to bond together the tick-borne disease community and address this issue from a unified front. The Bite Back for a Cure Run/ Walk series provides local communities with a tangible opportunity to help in this fight.”

The national Bite Back for a Cure program supports volunteers across the country in their efforts to plan events to raise funds for research in the fight against Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. There have been 12 walks so far, held in New York, Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas.

The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance is dedicated to raising awareness, promoting advocacy and supporting initiatives to find a cure for tick-borne diseases, including Lyme. Information can be found at TBDAlliance.org.

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