Governor Phil Scott, State Agencies Join Forces around Systematic Tick Surveillance Program

30 July 2019

Woodstock, Vt. – Preliminary spring data is in from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) and Vermont Department of Health’s systematic tick surveillance program. A total of 1,924 ticks were collected in this year’s spring sampling.

“Tickborne diseases are on the rise in Vermont,” said Governor Phil Scott. “Any time a tickborne illness appears in a community, it’s a cause for concern. The good news is we can still enjoy outdoor activities by knowing how to protect ourselves from tick bites.”

The systematic tick surveillance program was initiated in 2018 by the Health Department in partnership with VAAFM to track blacklegged ticks and the pathogens they carry around the state. In 2018, a total of 1,239 ticks were collected during the spring, although due to a change in the way ticks are collected, data from 2018 can’t be compared to this year’s figures.

The program focuses on the blacklegged tick, which is responsible for transmitting over 99% of all tickborne diseases reported in Vermont. Through this program, ticks are collected in the spring and fall from locations around the state. Once all data has been collected, VAAFM and the Health Department collaborate to calculate blacklegged tick densities, in order to determine the likelihood of human encounters with ticks that can transmit disease.

After each collection period, ticks are sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for identification and testing of blacklegged ticks for five tickborne pathogens: Borrelia burgdorferi (the pathogen that causes Lyme disease), Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Babesia microti, Borrelia miyamotoi, and Powassan virus. Pathology results from the CDC for 2019 are pending.

The best way to prevent tickborne diseases is to prevent tick bites. VAAFM and the Health Department encourage farmers, outdoor workers, recreationalists, and all Vermonters to “Be Tick Smart.” 

PREVENT TICK BITES

  • Wear an EPA-registered insect repellent (choose the right one for you) and talk with your veterinarian about tick prevention products for your pets.
  • Wear clothing treated with permethrin, which kills ticks on contact and protects through several washings.
  • Do a daily tick check after outdoor activity.
  • Shower soon after being outside.
  • Place clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on clothing.
  • Promptly remove any ticks that you find on your body. Learn more about how to properly remove a tick.

To learn more about Vermont’s Tick Surveillance Program, visit https://agriculture.vermont.gov/public-health-agricultural-resource-management-division/plant-health-and-pest-management/ticks

To review previous reports from the statewide tick survey, another VAAFM project that looks at ticks in Vermont , visit VAAFM’s Annual Tick Reports webpage.

To learn more about preventing tickborne diseases, visit: http://www.healthvermont.gov/disease-control/tickborne-diseases/prevent-tick-bites-tickborne-diseases

Contact Information

Office of Governor Phil Scott
109 State Street, Pavilion
Montpelier, VT 05609
Phone: 802 828-3333 (TTY: 800 649-6825)
Fax: 802 828-3339

Public Records Database and Agency Records Officer or Liaison Contact Information

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