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High-Season For Lyme Disease Begins, Ticks Out In Force

Brian M
Flickr CC

Health and environmental officials say New Hampshire is entering the highest risk time of year for exposure to Lyme disease, and the ticks could be especially bad this year.

“If you have to, move to Aruba,” says Alan Eaton, Biologist with the UNH Cooperative Extension, “Get out of here for the next month of six weeks or so.”

Lyme risk is high right now because tick nymphs – the young form of the insect – are active, and because they are about the size of a poppy seed, they are really hard to see. There may be more ticks this year because a blanket of snow kept them, not so much from freezing, but from drying out.

“When you have a nice layer of snow or ice that seals you in and keeps you in a situation where it’s close to 100% humidity, then you’re gonna do alright,” Eaton says.

New Hampshire has the highest rate of Lyme disease in the country. To combat ticks officials recommend staying out of tall grass, wearing clothing that covers your legs (with tall rubber boots providing the best defense) and checking for ticks daily.

“The most important stuff is within your control and it doesn’t cost money it just takes a little time and effort,” says Eaton.

Incidence of Lyme and the black-legged ticks that carry it are highest on the seacoast and southern counties.

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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