Ticks, Lyme, and other Tickborne Illnesses
Ticks are a part of life in Norwalk and all over this region. They can carry different illnesses, including Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Powassan virus. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to avoid tick bites and act quickly if you are bitten by a tick.
Protect Your Property
- Keep your yard free of leaf litter and debris, and cut grass and tall weeds regularly. Remove any puddles of standing water.
- Consult this guide from the CT Agricultural Experiment Station to learn about pesticides and other strategies to protect your property.
- Avoid wooded or bushy areas and areas with tall grass, where ticks are most common. If hiking or walking in these areas, try to walk in the center of trails.
- Treat your clothing, boots, and other gear with products that contain 0.5% permethrin.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. Always follow product instructions carefully.
- Tuck your pants into your socks to keep ticks off your skin. (Ticks often start on the lower legs and crawl up the body to find a feeding spot.)
- Take a bath or shower as soon as possible after coming inside. Check your own scalp and body and those of your children for ticks and/or take a bath or shower soon after coming inside. Ticks can attach to any part of the human body, but they are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. For additional information visit the CDC's Tick Bite Prevention website.
Removing and Testing Ticks
If you find a tick on yourself or a family member, don’t panic! Just remove it as soon as possible.
- Use tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- Pull the tick up and out with a steady, even pressure, making sure you don’t leave any mouth parts in the skin.
- Clean the bite area with alcohol or soap and water, and wash your hands.
Please note: The Norwalk Health Department has resumed tick testing. Our lab will send ticks to the CT Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES). CAES will determine what kind of tick it is and test it for illness. Tick-related illnesses tested for include: anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Lyme. Test results will be mailed to the address listed on the form. Testing can take up to 7 weeks. Testing is no cost for Norwalk residents. For non-residents the cost is $15. For more information regarding tick testing please contact 203-854-7776. If you submit or have submitted a tick during Summer 2022, please complete a survey from Western Connecticut State University Tickborne Disease Prevention Laboratory. The purpose of the survey is to understand the relationship between outdoor activities and tick bites. Your response will help researchers figure out better ways to prevent Lyme Disease. Complete the survey here.
Look for Symptoms, Seek Care
An early symptom of Lyme disease is an expanding red “bullseye” rash, but only 60%-80% of infected people develop a rash. Other warning signs of Lyme and other tickborne illnesses include fatigue, fever, headaches, joint pain, muscle aches, and swollen glands. Talk to your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. Lyme disease and other tickborne illnesses can often be treated successfully with antibiotics. However, if it is not treated, the infection can spread and become quite serious.
While most people infected with Powassan virus likely experience no symptoms or a mild flu-like illness, some people will develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system. Initial symptoms of Powassan virus can include fever, headache, vomiting, and weakness. Symptoms of more severe disease include confusion, loss of coordination, difficulty speaking, and seizures. Powassan cannot be treated with antibiotics, because it is a virus. Talk to your doctor if you experience any symptoms.