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Researchers Warn of Continuing Lyme Disease Threat from Deer Ticks

PORTLAND, Maine - October is the peak season for adult deer ticks in Maine, and Lyme disease researchers at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute say, on average, at least half of the ticks may be infected with the Lyme bacterium and other disease pathogens.

Institute officials says this time of year dog ticks are in hibernation, so any tick found in southern Maine will almost certainly be a deer tick. But vector ecologist Chuck Lubelczyk says they may look different than what people are expecting.

"This time of year the deer ticks are much larger, and a lot of the public health messaging that comes out does concern deer ticks that are out in the summertime when they're quite small," Lubelczyk says. "The concern is that many people that might be finding larger ticks this time of year won't realize they're deer ticks and will just discard them or not be that concerned about them."

According to the institute, an estimated 13,000 people contracted Lyme disease in Maine in 2014.