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CDC Study Focuses on Spraying Pesticides and Tick-Borne Diseases

Photo by Scott Bauer (USDA ARS)

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looks at whether spraying yards with pesticides reduces the risk of contracting a tick-borne disease. In New York, the study focused on Dutchess County.

The CDC studied 2,500 households in Fairfield, Litchfield, and New Haven Counties in Connecticut; Dutchess County in New York; and four counties in Maryland. Half of the yards were sprayed with Bifenthrin, a widely-used commercial pesticide. The other half was sprayed with a placebo – water. The result was a 60 percent reduction in ticks on the properties sprayed with the pesticide. However, tick–borne illness and tick encounters among those residing at the properties treated with the pesticide were not reduced. Tick encounters signify ticks crawling or ticks attaching. Dr. Alison Hinkley is an epidemiologist with the CDC’s Division of Vector-borne Diseases.

Dr. Richard Ostfeld is disease ecologist with the Millbrook-based Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, in Dutchess County.

Here’s his second interpretation.

The CDC’s Hinckley, who delivered the presentation at the International Conference on Lyme Borreliosis and Other Tick-Borne Diseases, in Boston, says more studies are needed.

The study on pesticides followed one released a few days earlier in which the CDC found that preliminary estimates indicating the number of Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year is around 300,000. That’s a figure roughly 10 times higher than the annual number of cases reported to CDC. Here’s the Cary Institute’s Ostfeld.

Democratic state Senator Terry Gipson, whose district – most of Dutchess County and part of Putnam – is a Lyme disease hotspot, says the CDC studies should help his legislation concerning tick-borne diseases.

In the Assembly, Democrat Kevin Cahill is sponsoring the TickBITE Act while Democrat Didi Barrett is sponsoring the Doctor Protection Act.

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