WILLISTON, Vt.- The official start to summer is just days away, which means tick season is upon us and Vermont continues to be a hot spot for Lyme disease.
“We’re all at high risk,” said Pat Bannerman, a VTLyme board member. It’s a non-profit organization dedicated to preventative education.
In Vermont, there are 13 different species of ticks, but according to the health officials, 99% of all tick-borne diseases are caused by only one tick. The blacklegged tick.
“We need to be aware of and we need to protect ourselves,” she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Lyme disease carrying arachnids have left Vermont with the second most infected state in the country. In 2017, 1,093 cased were reported to Vermont’s Department of Health.
“So many people get bit and don’t realize it,” she said.
Bannerman had a run in with the bacterial infection in 2006, after she had gone undiagnosed for several years.
“I went to physicians here in Vermont, nobody could identify what was going on,” she said.
Due to the various symptoms of Lyme disease, Bannerman says the tests are not always accurate.
“Physicians that rely heavily on the bloodwork are doing a disservice because Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis,” she said.
Some of those symptoms include fever, fatigue, and muscle and joint aches.
“It should be on your radar that it could be a tick-borne disease when you’re feeling that way this time of year,” said Dr. Natalie Kwit, Vermont Public Health Veterinarian.
Bannerman calls her backyard ‘tick haven’. A wet area with high grass and the occasional deer.
“I will always make sure I wear my rubber boots if I go in the back, I wear long, long shirts, a hat and I will even spray with DEET”
Lyme disease incidence rates per 100,000 people is quite high in New Hampshire, with a three year average of 51.9%. New York comes in a little lower with 15.8%.