By Ben Kava
East Hampton has the highest percentage of Lyme disease-infected adult deer ticks among Suffolk County townships, a study released by county officials on Monday concluded.
The multi-year study analyzed the rates of ticks infected with various diseases in each of the county’s 10 townships, according to a release from County Executive Steve Bellone’s office.
The study collected data from 2016 through 2018 and examined different types of adult deer ticks and nymph deer ticks, testing them for the bacteria known to cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and babesiosis, among other infections.
In East Hampton Town, the study found that, in 2018, 66 percent of adult deer ticks tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme. For nymph deer ticks in the same year, it was 42 percent. In 2017, percentages of adult and nymph deer ticks that were found to be infected with the bacteria were 59 percent and 0 percent, respectively.
Comparatively, the Southampton Town portion of the study found that, in 2018, 24 percent of adult ticks and 28 percent of nymph ticks tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme.
In East Hampton, the study also reported that in 2018, 34 percent of nymph deer ticks had the bacteria responsible for babesiosis. In adult deer ticks, 8 percent tested positive for the same bacteria. Twelve percent of adult ticks in East Hampton were also found to carry the pathogen that causes anaplasmosis. The rate of nymph ticks found to have the same bacteria was 4 percent.
In previous years, total rates of infection among both adult and nymph deer ticks in East Hampton have been lower. In 2017, 14.3 percent of adult ticks and 0 percent of nymph ticks tested positive for anaplasmosis, while 16.3 percent of adult ticks and 11 percent of nymph ticks were found to be carriers of babesiosis.
Across the county, data collected from the study found that adult deer ticks infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease totaled 46.7 percent. Among nymph deer ticks, that percentage was 27.1.
Despite higher rates of found bacteria in 2018, the results from the study were classified within the normal range of tick infection per New York State standards, the release said.