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Population Of Lone Star Ticks Found On Norwalk's Manresa Island

A female lone star tick has a distinct white spot. A female lone star tick has a distinct white spot.
A female lone star tick has a distinct white spot. Photo Credit: photo by J. Gathany, CDC
Female lone star ticks crawl on a sock. Female lone star ticks crawl on a sock.
Female lone star ticks crawl on a sock. Photo Credit: K. Stafford

NORWALK, Conn. — There's a new tick to worry about in Connecticut: A sizable population of a species that has been linked to an allergy to red meat in humans has been discovered on an island in Norwalk, state environmental officials said.

The presence of the lone star ticks was detected in June after a South Norwalk resident reported a deer acting strangely on Manresa Island, according to a release from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

DEEP Environmental Conservation Officer Jesse Nivolo found the deer — which was dead and had a severe infestation of ticks that covered its eyes, ears, head and neck.

Researchers from the Agricultural Experiment Station went to Manresa Island and found multiple deer and raccoon skeletons and many dead birds, according to a state official.

“The number of ticks on and around the animal was incredible,” said Dr. Kirby Stafford of CAES. “A population of this size has been established, unreported for many years.” 

They found that the lone star tick was "incredibly abundant" at the site, but did not appear to be established on the mainland. 

Manresa Island is not open to the public and poses little direct threat to residents, DEEP said. 

But more and more lone star ticks are being submitted by local residents for testing, sad the Norwalk Health Department, suggesting that the ticks were being introduced to other areas in town. 

There has also been a steady increase in submissions of lone star ticks to the CAES Tick Testing Laboratory, with 70 to 90 in recent years. The majority of lone star tick submissions are from lower Fairfield County. 

The lone star tick is the most common human-biting tick in the southeastern United States. 

Lone star ticks are reddish brown in color, with white spot on the back of female ticks. Male ticks have faint white markings at the edge of the body. 

The lone star tick is associated with a number of human and animal diseases such as ehrlichiosis, Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), spotted fever rickettsiosis, tularemia, Heartland virus, theileriosis in deer (related to human babesiosis), and more recently, red meat allergy. 

Lone star ticks do not transmit the pathogens that cause Lyme disease, babesiosis or anaplasmosis.

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