Archive for the ‘Ticks’ Category

It’s January, and Massachusetts is Dealing With Ticks Again

It’s January, and Massachusetts is dealing with ticks again

Record breaking temperatures over the weekend have awakened ticks across Massachusetts that were experiencing their version of winter hibernation.

Harvard entomologist Dr. Rich Pollack says ticks never fully go away for the winter.

When the temperature drops below 40 degrees, they simply become what he calls “quiet.”

(See link for full article and video)



Please know that ticks go through diapause, a type of hibernation.  An antifreeze type substance allows them to survive freezing winter temperatures so the notion that “climate change” is causing ticks to spread has been debunked:

This issue is extremely important because research dollars going toward climate change robs funding from research that is desperately needed such as more accurate testing, effective treatments, and transmission studies.

For more on ticks surviving winter temps:  Video shows ticks surviving 3 degree weather under snow cover.

Scots to Take Part in New European Tick Project

Scots to take part in new European tick project

15 January 2020
Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures

Scotland is to be part of an initiative aimed at improving the detection and treatment of tick-borne diseases.

The NorthTick Project involves the wider UK, also Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Scientists at the Inverness-based Scottish Lyme Disease and Tick-borne Infections Reference Laboratory (SLDTRL) are among experts involved.

The project hopes to develop new tests to make diagnosis of diseases easier and also more targeted antibiotics… (See link for article)

“Bitten” Makes Many “Best of 2019” Book Lists

08 JAN 2020

“Bitten” Makes Many “Best of 2019” Book Lists

By Dorothy Kupcha Leland

State Law Aims to Protect Livestock From Asian Longhorned Tick

State law aims to protect livestock from Asian longhorned tick

NY health officials warn of new species of tick found in state
Top row: Poppy seeds Bottom row: Nymph and adult longhorned ticks

Lyme Disease Prevalence: Does Sex Matter?

Gender bias is now a widely recognized problem in research. Sometimes this happens because women haven’t been studied in the first place. Even when they have been included in the research, their results may not be analyzed separately from those of men. Because of this, we don’t know much about how women differ from men in how they contract a disease, are diagnosed, or respond to treatment.

Is this an issue in Lyme disease? Are women more likely to get Lyme disease, more difficult to diagnose, or more prone to treatment failure? We decided to launch a research study using data from the MyLymeData patient registry. To kick off the study, we asked Dr. Raphael Stricker to explain how males and females with Lyme disease might differ. His video presentation is included below.

Lyme Disease Gender Differences

Dr. Stricker identified four major areas in Lyme disease where males and females are not alike:

  • Women may attract more ticks and have more atypical Lyme rashes than men (Josek 2019).
  • Commercial two-tier Lyme testing favors men over women, because men have more positive ELISA tests and more positive Western blots (Feder 1992, Rebman 2015, Schwarzwalder 2010).
  • Women have an exaggerated response to Borrelia infection, with more inflammatory and inhibitory cytokines than men. This may promote the evolution of chronic Lyme disease. (Jarefors 2006).
  • Women may have a higher treatment failure rate.

Lyme Tests Are Biased To Detect More Males

The CDC Western blot criteria requires that 5 of 10 bands react for a lab test to be considered positive. A study by Feder, showed that men tend to have 6 positive bands, while women have only 4 positive bands. These women will not test positive for Lyme disease or receive the timely diagnosis and treatment needed to get well (Stricker, Johnson 2009).

Lyme Disease Prevalence — Almost Twice As Many Females As Males

According to the CDC, most reported surveillance cases are male—58% males vs 42% females. The CDC statistics also show a bimodal distribution of Lyme disease — with children and adults over 50 reporting the most cases. Both of these assumptions have recently been called into question by other big data studies.

For example, FAIR Health, one of the largest insurance claims data bases, recently released a report on Lyme disease that shows more insurance claim lines with Lyme disease diagnoses were submitted for females than males and females do not have a bimodal age distribution. In fact, between the ages of 23-50, there were almost twice as many females as males with Lyme disease. (FAIR Health 2019).

Lyme Disease Prevalence - for some ages (23-50), there were almost twice as many females as males with Lyme disease

Tick-Bite Victim Slowly Recovering, Thankful For Community Support


UPDATE: Tick-bite victim slowly recovering, thankful for community support

Disease-Causing Tick Common Along Gulf Coast Is Now In Indiana, IU Experts Say

Disease-causing tick common along Gulf Coast is now in Indiana, IU experts say

Indiana University researchers have found a Gulf Coast tick in southern Indiana.

As the name suggests, this species of arachnid is primarily found in states that border the Gulf of Mexico. Its presence in Indiana could signify an expanded range, and for Hoosiers that would mean an increased risk of contracting a nasty disease.

Tidewater fever, or rickettsia parkeri, is a form of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Both illnesses can result in fever, headache, rash and muscle aches.

“It’s not as bad as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but it’s something you don’t want to get, for sure,” said Keith Clay, IU distinguished professor emeritus of biology.

Clay recently left IU after more than three decades to become chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Tulane University. He still leads IU’s Project Vector Shield, an initiative started in 2018 that collects ticks and mosquitoes from sites throughout Indiana.

The goal is to provide early warning for disease vectors that pose a threat to people and livestock. The project is part of IU’s Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative.

IU study: We have more ticks here that carry Lyme disease than thought

Tick season: What you need to know to keep yourself, and your dog, safe

Ticks and mosquitoes are collected during the growing season — roughly April through October — at 10 sites scattered across southern Indiana. Researchers regularly perform what’s known in the tick world as dragging or flagging at each site during the growing season, Clay said.

This technique consists of slowly dragging a heavy, white corduroy cloth across an area of vegetation. If ticks are present, they will instinctively grab onto the cloth, thinking it’s a deer, a dog or some other creature that could provide a blood meal.

“Maybe you get none, maybe one or two, and sometimes you hit a hot spot and get 500 on a cloth,” Clay said. “It’s kind of like fishing.”

When ticks are found on a cloth, they’re collected with tweezers and placed in sample tubes with 70% ethanol. This kills the ticks instantly while preserving them until they can be analyzed at an IU lab. There, the ticks are sorted by species, sex and life stage.

When Clay started looking at ticks in the late 1990s, the dog tick was the only species found in this area. Since then, the lone star tick population has exploded. It’s by far the most common species found in Indiana today, Clay said.

Recently, the blacklegged deer tick, which transmits Lyme disease, has become more common, particularly in the southern part of the state.

A student who was sorting ticks in the IU lab recently noticed one that looked different. Clay thought it was a Gulf Coast tick, but he wanted to be sure. High-resolution photos of the bug were taken and sent to the U.S. National Tick Collection at Georgia Southern University.

“It took an expert about 10 seconds to identify it,” Clay said.

At first, Vector Shield researchers thought this was the first Gulf Coast tick found in Indiana. This was based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maps of tick distribution, Clay said.

It turned out the Indiana State Department of Health had previously found a Gulf Coast tick in Gibson County. That’s just north of Posey County, the source of the tick IU researchers discovered.

“Two ticks don’t make for an invasion, but it’s at least plausible that there’s a lot more of them out there,” Clay said.

It’s not exactly clear what’s causing the increase of tick diversity in Indiana. Climate change is one likely factor. Winters aren’t as severe and don’t last as long, Clay said. This extends the growing season and the time that ticks — along with other animals they may latch on to — are active.

Changing landscapes could also play a role. Southern Indiana was once all forest, Clay said. Development and farming has transformed the region into more of a patchwork. Grasslands and scrubby areas are where ticks tend to thrive, he said.

Like other animals, ticks tend to follow their food. The deer population, as well as livestock, has increased dramatically over the past 300 years, Clay said.

Of course, both of the Gulf Coast ticks found in Indiana could be random occurrences in which the bugs latched on to someone or something that traveled north from the southern U.S.

“Maybe they don’t persist and form a viable population,” Clay said, “but it certainly warrants a closer look.”