Goudarz Molaei, PhD, Research Scientist and Associate Clinical Professor, Center for Vector Biology & Zoonotic Diseases at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, delivered a “Tick Talk” to 67 Y’s Men of Meriden on Jan. 29. Backed by colorful slides, he noted that vector-borne diseases account for 17% of all infectious diseases in the state.
Concentrating first on diseases transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, Molaei noted that West Nile Fever is spread by some 60 mosquito species (but mostly by the genus Culex) to both humans and horses, causing meningitis and encephalitis but severe in only 1% of cases. The primary hosts are birds with the West Nile Virus being carried by mosquitoes from birds to humans. Connecticut currently maintains 93 mosquito traps throughout the state with the captured insects being transported to the Center for examination.
Deadlier is the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), frequently carried by the Culiseta Melanura mosquito from birds (especially the American Robin and Wood Thrush) to humans, horses and other mammals. About 43% of infected humans die from the disease, with many survivors suffering long-term mental and physical impairments. EEE incidence in humans has sharply increased in the state since 2003.
The three tick species carrying human disease include the deer (black-legged) tick, American dog (wood) tick and the Lone Star tick, all prevalent in eastern America, along with a nasty newcomer, the Asian Longhorned tick having recently arrived in Connecticut from New Jersey. Human tick-borne diseases include Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and Powassan Virus infection.
But the most prevalent tick-borne infection in the Northern Hemisphere is Lyme Disease, its name derived in 1975 after cases were detected in Lyme and Old Lyme, CT. Spread by the deer tick carrying the bacterium Borriela, it affects over 30,000 people annually in the United States, usually presenting with an expanding rash (often in the shape of a classic “bull’s-eye”) along with fever, headache and lethargy and sometimes progressing to chronic arthritis and even encephalitis.
Retired or semi-retired men from Meriden or surrounding communities, interested in attending a Y’s Men of Meriden meeting, are invited to call 203-238-7784 or visit the www.ysmenofmeriden.com website.
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