ALBANY — State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-Big Flats) joined his Senate colleagues this week to urge Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders to include funding for research, education, and prevention initiatives in the 2019-2020 state budget to continue combating Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases (TBDs).
“Important actions over the past several years have broadened the state’s overall response to the spread of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Nevertheless, much more needs to be done, particularly in the areas of reporting, testing and treatment, and education and awareness,” said O’Mara, who has served as a member of the Senate Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases.
The state Senate has led the way in recent years in securing nearly $3 million in state funding to advance research, education, and prevention initiatives statewide.
O’Mara and his colleagues noted, however, that the governor’s 2019-20 proposed state budget fails to include funding to build on past efforts and further combat the spread of Lyme and TBDs.
In response, the Senate Republican conference this week launched “Let’s Talk Ticks!” as an advocacy and educational campaign to continue raising awareness about the importance of ongoing state investment and support. At a round table discussion, lawmakers and other policy makers heard testimony from researchers, patients, and other experts committed to tackling the TBD epidemic.
We need this in Wisconsin which is 4th in the nation for Lyme disease.
If you want to make a difference, contact your representative & senators. Here is a letter you can use as is or you can use to derive your own. We need to keep pressing the issue or they will happily ignore it.
You’ve probably gotten a lot of questions from people who think you are out of your mind, many of which begin with, “Aren’t you afraid of…”
Veteran thru-hikers will tell you that while there are inevitable dangers on trail, stereotypical fears are usually overblown. Here’s a hard look at three common concerns on the trail—bears, Lyme disease and norovirus—how much you should (or shouldn’t) worry about them, and how to minimize their impact on your hike.
Let’s start with the bugaboo that friends and family fret about when they imagine you—a tasty human hors d’oeuvre—out in the wild for six months.
Bears are a fact of life on all three Triple Crown trails. The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is common on all three trails, while the brown bear, aka grizzly (Ursus arctos) is found only near the northern reaches of the CDT. If you see a polar bear, Ursus marinus, you’re either taking a zero in a city with a zoo or considerably off course.
Grizzlies and black bears were once hunted to near extinction. Today they are thriving, with as many as 465,000 black bears and 200,000 grizzlies (mostly in Canada and Alaska) roaming the continent.
So, how dangerous are they? Here’s a clue: Most long-distance hikers consider bear sightings a highlight, not a nightmare. Consider these stats:
Of those, just ten fatal grizzly attacks and 10 fatal black-bear attacks occurred in the Lower 48, or about one per year.
No fatal grizzly attacks occurred in states traversed by the AT; one occurred in a PCT state (California, but with this notable asterisk: a captive bear killed its handler); nine were in CDT states.
Of CDT-state grizzly attacks, six occurred in Yellowstone National Park (around four million annual visitors) or Grand Teton National Park (around three million annual visitors).
Of fatal black-bear attacks, four occurred in AT states, two were in CDT states, and none were in PCT states.
No fatal black-bear attacks occurred on the AT, PCT, or CDT. The two CDT-state black-bear attacks occurred far from the trail. Of the AT-state attacks, two occurred about ten miles from the trail (one in the Smokies; the other was the first recorded bear fatality in New Jersey history); the other two were at least 50 miles from the trail.
There is no reliable data on nonfatal attacks on or near Triple Crown trails. But considering the millions of people who annually visit some part of the trails — the Appalachian Trail Conservancy estimates that more than two million people visit the trail every year, for example, and some seven million people a year visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, traversed by the CDT — your chances of a dangerous bear encounter are vanishingly small, considerably less than one in a million. Statistically speaking, you’re about 60,000 times more likely to be killed by a human than a bear.
Conclusion: Be bear-smart, but your chances of having a negative encounter with a bear are extremely low, bordering on non-existent.
If you are a CDT or PCT hiker, you’re mostly off the hook for this one, as incidence of Lyme disease is negligible in the West (though it is rising faster in California than in any other state except Florida).
But if you are an AT hiker, Lyme disease should concern you much more than bears. Believe it or not, one out of every 20AT thru-hikers will contract this tickborne disease in 2019.
In fact, the AT passes through ten of the 15 states with the highest Lyme incidence (cases per 100,000 residents), according to 2017 statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control. The worst state may surprise you: Maine, with 1,850 cases, or 106 per 100,000 residents. But number three Pennsylvania is tops in raw numbers, with a whopping 11,900 cases, more than twice as many as the next two contenders, number 13 New York (5,155 cases) and number seven New Jersey (5,092). These AT states also rank in the top 15 for cases per 100,000 residents: number two, Vermont (1,092 cases); number five, New Hampshire (1,381); number six, Connecticut (2,051); number 11, Maryland (1,891); number 12, Massachusetts (410); and number 14, Virginia (1,657). Lyme disease is considerably less common in southern AT states so far — in 2017, 45th-ranked Georgia reported just 0.1 cases per 100,000 residents; Tennessee (0.2) was 42nd, and North Carolina (0.7) was 26th — but bites from the lone-star tick, Amblyomma americanum, can cause STARI, or southern tick-associated rash illness, which can cause similar symptoms.
Possible erythra migrans rash, taken in emergency room in Reading, PA. Clay Bonnyman Evans photo.
If caught early, Lyme disease is easily treated with common antibiotics such as Doxycycline and Amoxicillin. If left untreated, Lyme can cause serious, even life-threatening symptoms, including heart disease and partial paralysis. You do not want to mess around with Lyme.
“Antibodies against Lyme disease bacteria usually take a few weeks to develop,” according to the CDC. “During the first few weeks of infection, such as when a patient has an erythema migrans rash, the test is expected to be negative.”
Another bummer: The ticks most likely to transmit the disease are in the nymphal stage. They are teeny-tiny little pests, the size of a poppy seed or even smaller. Hard to find.
But don’t worry: Doctors in Lyme-endemic states are hip to all this. Rejected by a doc-in-a-box clinic because my fever was “too high” (104 degrees), I staggered into an emergency room in Reading, PA, during my 2016 AT thru-hike. There, the no-nonsense doc swiftly prescribed doxycycline based on a) my symptoms (including a non-bulls-eye rash) and b) circumstances, i.e., living in the woods and infrequently showering. It sucked, but after a few days of misery, I was on my way north.
You may have heard stories of a debilitating, ongoing illness called “chronic Lyme disease.” The CDC is skeptical of this alleged diagnosis, preferring the label “Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome.” The agency cautions that some treatments prescribed by doctors for the syndrome, including prolonged courses of antibiotics, are not effective and can cause long-term complications.
Your best bet, of course, is to avoid contracting Lyme (or STARI) in the first place. Here are a few good rules recommended by the ATC.
Wear clothes treated with permethrin. You can buy pre-treated clothes, spray them yourself or even send your gear to be treated by a company called Insect Shield.
Wear long pants and sleeves in tick territory. (Confession: Even after suffering the symptoms of Lyme, I couldn’t bear wearing long sleeves and pants while trudging through the mid-Atlantic inferno in high summer.)
Wear light-colored clothing.
Apply Deet-based insect repellent to exposed skin.
Do tick checks nightly. Recruit a pal to check, uh, the areas you can’t see yourself; make sure he or she is a really good pal, since the tiny nymphal ticks most likely to transmit Lyme are very hard to see.
Ask your doctor if she will prescribe a course of doxycycline or Amoxicillin prior to your hike. If you develop flu-like symptoms, take the antibiotics as prescribed, and you’ll save yourself the hassle and cost of going to a doctor who will simply prescribe the same medication.
Conclusion: Lyme-bearing ticks are be a lot smaller than a bear—800 million times smaller—but they should take up much more of your concern.
This nasty little bug is millions of times smaller than a tick, but it frequently causes distress and suffering among long-distance hikers.
Noro, as it is often referred to, is a tiny viral particle that causes diarrhea and vomiting. The most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States, noro annually causes up to 71,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths. It’s a tenacious little bugger that can survive on a dry surface for weeks.
There aren’t good statistics about the incidence of noro on trails — but the ATC typically puts out several noro warnings each year for AT hikers. It’s a people thing: the more crowded the trail, the more likely it is that the disease will be present. Suffice it to say that it’s common, and all-too-easy to contract by:
Having direct contact with an infected person.
Consuming contaminated food or water.
Touching contaminated surfaces, or consuming food that has touched contaminated surfaces.
“You can get norovirus,” according to the CDC, “by accidentally getting tiny particles of poop or vomit from an infected person in your mouth.” Yum.
Symptoms usually develop 12 to 48 hours after exposure and the illness usually runs its course in one to three days. Disturbingly, people may continue to “shed” the virus for up to two weeks.
Instead of gross illustrations of norovirus, here’s a shot looking up from the bottom of Mahoosuc Notch in Maine. Clay Bonnyman Evans.
It’s hard not to be filthy on trail — it’s part of the fun, right? But there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the likelihood of contracting a nasty case of noro on the trail.
Wash your hands, early and often. With soap and water (at least 200 feet from any water source). Antibacterial hand sanitizer isn’t as good as washing, but it’s better than nothing.
Don’t share food, water bottles or utensils.
Don’t shake hands. Fist bumps are not just an affectation!
Conclusion: Norovirus is small—millions of times smaller than a bear or tick—but it’s brutal, and can cause miserable havoc on trail. You have a right to be worried about it, and don’t forget to wash your hands!
I’m not sure what “Lyme is a very specific disease” means to this author but it is as vast and wide as you can imagine with symptoms all over the place. It’s unbelievable and had I not lived this nightmare on steroids, I probably wouldn’t believe it myself. And rarely does Lyme come alone: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/10/30/study-shows-lyme-msids-patients-infected-with-many-pathogens-and-explains-why-we-are-so-sick/ For the first time, Garg et al. show a 85% probability for multiple infections including not only tick-borne pathogens but also opportunistic microbes such as EBV and other viruses. Do you call that a “specific disease?” It sounds like a pathogen storm to me. This issue complicates cases exponentially and necessitates different medications. The few minor symptoms they mention are far from the picture of Lyme/MSIDS. This is probably the most complex illness known to man.
Presently, it is uncertain to what extent seasonal migrating birds contribute to the introduction of ticks and tick-associated pathogens in Denmark. To quantify this phenomenon, we captured birds during the spring and autumn migration at three field sites in Denmark and screened them for ticks. Bird-derived ticks were identified to tick species and screened for 37 tick-borne pathogens using real-time PCR. Overall, 807 birds, representing 44 bird species, were captured and examined for ticks during the spring (292 birds) and autumn migrations (515 birds). 10.7% of the birds harboured a total of 179 Ixodes ricinus ticks (38 ticks in spring and 141 in the autumn) with a mean infestation intensity of 2.1 ticks per bird. The European robin (Erithacus rubecula), the common blackbird (Turdus merula), and the common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) had the highest infestation intensities. 60.9% of the ticks were PCR-positive for at least one tick-borne pathogen.Borrelia DNA was found in 36.9% of the ticks. The Borrelia species detected were B. spielmanii (15.1%), B. valaisiana (13.4%), B. garinii (12.3%), B. burgdorferi s.s. (2.2%), B. miyamotoi (1.1%), and B. afzelii (0.6%). In addition, 10.6% and 1.7% of the samples were PCR-positive for spotted fever group rickettsiae and Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis.
All of the tick-borne pathogens that we found in the present study are known to occur in Danish forest populations of I. ricinus. Our study indicates that migrating birds can transport ticks and their pathogens from neighboring countries to Denmark including sites in Denmark without a sustainable tick population.Thus, a tick-borne pathogen affecting human or animal health emerging at one location in Europe can rapidly be introduced to other countries by migrating birds. These movements are beyond national veterinary control. The current globalization, climatic and environmental changes affect the potential for introduction and establishment of ticks and tick-borne pathogens in Northern Europe. It is therefore important to quantify the risk for rapid spread and long distance exchange of tick-borne pathogens in Europe.
Ticks are marvelous ecoadaptors and will survive harsh weather by seeking out leaf litter and snow. In fact, warm winters have proven to be lethal to deer ticks. In addition to that, please see links above for details on the shoddy science behind the climate model regarding ticks.
And, most importantly, as patients we must continue to insist on tax dollars and monies going for good, solid, transparent research on issues that will relieve human/animal suffering.
Climate change data has not and will not help patients one iota.
Seroprevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi, B. miyamotoi, and Powassan Virus in Residents Bitten by Ixodes Ticks, Maine, USA
Robert P. Smith, Susan P. Elias , Catherine E. Cavanaugh, Charles B. Lubelczyk, Eleanor H. Lacombe, Janna Brancato, Hester Doyle, Peter W. Rand, Gregory D. Ebel, and Peter J. Krause
Reports of Lyme disease in Maine, USA, have increased from a few cases in the late 1980s to 1,848 cases in 2017 (1), coinciding with range expansion of Ixodes scapularis ticks over the past 3 decades (2). The Maine Center for Disease Control reported the first 2 cases of hard-tick relapsing fever caused by Borrelia miyamotoi during 2016 and an additional 6 cases during 2017 (1). Hard-tick relapsing fever might be present as a nonspecific febrile illness (3,4). Han et al. (5) found a B. miyamotoi infection prevalence of 3.7% in adult I. scapularis ticks in Maine, ≈10-fold less than that for B. burgdorferi infection (50%, range 32%–65%) (6).
Powassan virus (POWV) encephalitis can be a devastating human infection and has infected 10 residents of Maine during 2000–2017. There are 2 variants of POWV with distinct enzootic cycles and tick vectors. Lineage 1 is transmitted by I. cookei ticks and lineage 2, sometimes referred to as deer tick virus, is transmitted by I. scapularis ticks (7). Both lineages are present in Maine (7), but lineage 1 has a lesser risk for transmission because human bites by I. cookei ticks are infrequent (8). One fatal Maine case was demonstrated to be caused by lineage 2 POWV (7). Although POWV infection prevalence in Maine I. scapularis ticks is low (0.7%–1.8%) (9), frequent exposure to I. scapularis bites (8) and rapidity of POWV transmission (i.e., POWV might be transmitted to vertebrates after only 15 min from onset of the tick bite) (10) raise concern.
To clarify frequency of exposure to B. burgdoferi, B. miyamotoi, and POWV pathogens, our objective was to determine the seroprevalence of each of these pathogens in residents of Maine, USA, who had been bitten by I. scapularis or I. cookei ticks. We also anticipated that a serosurvey might provide evidence of asymptomatic POWV infection or self-limited illness in a few persons, as reported elsewhere (11,12).
The Vector-Borne Disease Laboratory of the Maine Medical Center Research provided a free, statewide tick identification service during 1989–2013 to monitor exposure to I. scapularis ticks during range expansion of this invasive vector of human and animal disease. Persons submitted ticks that they had removed from themselves, family members, and pets. As of 2014, 33,332 ticks representing 14 species were identified in Maine; I. scapularis ticks were predominant.
During 2014 (2), we used our tick identification service database to identify persons who had removed >1 attached I. scapularis or I. cookei tick(s) from any person in the household in the previous 5 years (2009–2013). We invited these persons to participate in a serosurvey to assess past exposure to B. burgdorferi, B. miyamotoi and POWV. At the clinics, accompanying family members who self-reported as being tick-bitten were also invited to participate. The study was approved by Maine Medical Center Institutional Review Board (Protocol #4222). Participants provided informed consent (assent for minors) and submitted 30 mL of blood. Blood was centrifuged at 3,500 rpm for 15 min. Serum aliquots were stored at −20°C and then shipped to testing laboratories.
Serologic testing for antibodies to B. miyamotoi was conducted at the laboratory of one of the authors (P.J.K.). An ELISA and confirmatory Western blot assay were used to detect serum reactivity to B. miyamotoi GlpQ protein (13). For the ELISA, serum samples were diluted 1:320 and a signal >3 SD above the mean of 3 B. miyamotoi–negative serum controls was considered positive for B. miyamotoi antibody. Serum samples were considered B. miyamotoi seropositive if ELISA IgG and Western blot IgG tests yielded positive results.
Serologic evidence of exposure to B. burgdorferi was detected by the standard 2-step ELISA and Western blot assay in the Lyme Disease Serology Laboratory at Yale New Haven Hospital by one of the authors (H.D.). A reactive serum was defined as reaction to a dilution >1:100. All borderline or reactive serum were further characterized by Western blot immunoassay. Specimens were considered positive for B. burgdorferi exposure if the IgG immunoblot contained >5 of the 10 most common B. burgdorferi–associated bands (14).
Serologic testing for POWV was conducted by one of the authors (G.D.E.) by using a plaque-reduction neutralization test (PRNT) and a POWV–West Nile virus (WNV) chimeric virus (POWV–premembrane–envelope [prME]/WNV) assay as described (15). The specificity of the assay was determined by cross-neutralization studies, which demonstrated that antiserum raised against POWV efficiently neutralized chimeric POWV–prME/WNV but not WNV and that antiserum raised against WNV do not neutralize POWV–prME/WNV (15). Use of the chimeric POWV–prME/WNV assay virus enabled PRNT testing to be conducted on African green monkey kidney (Vero) cells according to standard procedures by using a 90% neutralization cutoff to be considered positive (15).
Of 230 enrolled persons, 190 were in our tick identification program database, and 40 were family members (Table 1). Among the 190 persons, 1 tick bite was from an I. cookei nymph, 13% of bites were from I. scapularis nymphs, and 86% of bites were from I. scapularis adult females. Engorgement of ticks ranged from slight (43%) to moderate (38%) to high (18%). Among the study population, 32 (13.9%) were seropositive for B. burgdorferi, 6 (2.6%) were seropositive for B. miyamotoi, and 2 (0.9%) were seropositive for both pathogens (Table 2). The serum of 1 person (0.4%) neutralized POWV at a titer of 1:20 and WNV at a titer of 1:10. We designated this serum as flavivirus positive. This person reported a history of neurologic illness for >1 year and a tick bite within the study year.
Among residents of southern Maine with a history of I. scapularis tick bites, the percentage who were seropositive for B. burgdorferi was 6 times greater than that for B. miyamotoi (13.7% vs. 2.1%) and 30 times greater than the percentage of deer ticks infected with POWV (0.4%). Because our study population consisted of persons bitten by I. scapularis ticks (with engorgement ranging from slight to high), we expected seroprevalence to be greater than that for the general population. The B. burgdorferi seroprevalence of 13.7% in our study population was ≈1.5 times higher than the seroprevalence of 9.4% reported by Krause et al. (13) in healthy residents of southern New England. In contrast, the B. miyamotoi seroprevalence of 2.1% was comparable to the seroprevalence of 3.9% reported by Krause at al. (13).
Of 1,854 cases of infection with Borrelia spp. reported in Maine in 2017, a total of 1,848 were attributed to Lyme disease and only 6 (0.3%) were attributed to B. miyamotoi (1). On the basis of a seroprevalence of ≈2% in this study and that B. miyamotoi might be transmitted by all tick stages, we believe that this disease is underdiagnosed in Maine (5). Our population was identified by history of tick exposure, rather than by symptoms. Our results therefore represent the relative frequency of exposure to these different agents rather than risk for illness.
Although the sensitivity and specificity of the 2-tier antibody assay for B. burgdorferi is better validated than those of the B. miyamotoi and POWV assays, the sensitivity and specificity of these assays are good (13–15). Nonetheless, our findings might represent overestimates or underestimates of actual exposure to these agents because of false-positive or false-negative results. These data provide evidence that humans are exposed to B. burgdorferi, B. miyamotoi, and POWV in Maine and help define the prevalence of human infection caused by each of these tickborne pathogens.
Krause PJ, Fish D, Narasimhan S, Barbour AG. Borrelia miyamotoi infection in nature and in humans.Clin Microbiol Infect. 2015;21:631–9. DOIPubMed
Han S, Lubelczyk C, Hickling GJ, Tsao JI. Transovarial transmission rate and filial infection prevalence of Borrelia miyamotoi from Ixodes scapularis collected from hunter-harvested white-tailed deer. Presented at: International Symposium on Tick-Borne Pathogens and Disease; Vienna, Austria; September 24–26, 2017.
Smith RP, Elias SP, Borelli TJ, Missaghi B, York BJ, Kessler RA, et al.Human babesiosis, 1995–2011, Maine, USA.Emerg Infect Dis. 2014;20:1727–30. DOIPubMed
Cavanaugh CE, Muscat PL, Telford SRIII, Goethert H, Pendlebury W, Elias SP, et al.Fatal deer tick virus infection in Maine.Clin Infect Dis. 2017;65:1043–6. DOIPubMed
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Robich RM, Lubelczyk C, Welch M, Henderson E, Smith RPJr. Detection of Powassan virus (lineage II) from Ixodes scapularis collected from four counties in Maine. Poster LB-5175. Presented at: 66th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene; Baltimore, MD, USA; November 5–9, 2017.
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THURMONT, Md. – A Thurmont veterinarian is warning pet-owners of what to look for to make sure your four-legged friend doesn’t become a victim of harmful ticks.
Dr. Susan Keane at the Catoctin Veterinary Clinic says ticks that can spread Lyme disease are alive all year round, not just during the warmer months.
She says your dogs, and even cats can catch the harmful bug while playing in the backyard or through a walk in the woods.
Dr. Keane advises that regular checks through their fur, especially the legs, can help with prevention, but here are some other symptoms to look for.
“Joint pain, fever, lethargy, meaning they’re laying around, not eating, anorexia. Any dog going outside, even in a suburban yard there’s some risk of a field mouse dropping a tick or the white-tail deer that we have in Maryland,” Dr. Keane explained.
In the last 100 tests done in January at the clinic, Dr. Keane says, eight percent tested positive for Lyme disease.
Winter thaws bring out the ticks. Take precautions when heading outdoors on warm winter days to avoid tick bites. Wearing light-colored clothing and tucking pantlegs into socks can help. Credit: Pavla Zakova | Dreamstime.com
We asked disease ecologist Rick Ostfeld if we need to worry about ticks during the winter. His response is below. (TL; DR = yes)
Blacklegged ticks, which transmit the agents of Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis, disappear in winter, right? Well, not entirely. Although human encounters with these ticks are less likely in winter, there are plenty of ticks out in the environment lurking in a state of (almost) suspended animation.
Larval ticks that hatched the prior summer but failed to find an animal host can become dormant and remain on the forest floor in a quiescent state. The same is true of nymphal ticks, which are normally most active in spring and early summer. These two stages are unlikely to activate until day-length and temperature both increase dramatically. Adult stage ticks, in contrast, most actively seek hosts in the late fall.
The females that were able to engorge on host blood last fall are overwintering in soil pores or under leaf litter, while slowly converting host blood into eggs that they will lay next spring or summer. Some of the adults that did not find a host have died of starvation or other causes, but the unfed survivors will activate any winter or spring day with above-freezing temperatures. In the southern United States, these ticks can be active all year, but even in the northeastern and upper Midwestern regions, ticks can bite during any warmish spell in January, February, and beyond.
As part of The Tick Project, we invite participating households to mail us ticks found embedded in or crawling on people or pets, and we typically receive quite a few even in the coldest months. The riskiest seasons for diseases transmitted by blacklegged ticks are spring and summer, but risk never goes away entirely. And, our 25-years of data from Dutchess County, NY show that, as the climate warms, the ticks come out earlier in the year, advancing the dates of greatest risk.
Alumnus works to protect people from West Nile Virus, Lyme disease
APRILLE MOHNFEBRUARY 23, 2019
Feb. 18, Elizabethtown College alumnus Jon Bachman, ‘17, returned to Elizabethtown College to speak to current students about his career as an aquatic biologist with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP).
Bachman is part of a team researching and working to increase awareness of arboviruses. Arboviruses are viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks or other arthropods. Bachman and his colleagues work to protect people from tick and mosquito-borne pathogens, most prominently West Nile Virus (WNV), and more recently, Lyme disease.
The DEP is studying WNV and the mosquitoes that carry it, which according to Vector Disease Control International, are primarily Culex pipiens, Culex tarsalis, and Culex quinquefasciatus.
Bachman and his team look at mosquito habitat so larvae can be suppressed and killed. They also set traps so when a female mosquito lays eggs in their trap they are able to collect the samples. They then smash the eggs and conduct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on the DNA in them. PCR is a process that can make many copies of specific DNA strands. By replicating the DNA they are able to see if the virus is carried by the eggs they collected.
Based on where large traces of the West Nile Virus is found the team determines where they’re going to spray for adult mosquitoes in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
This past year has had the most WNV positive mosquitoes. There were 7,500 positive samples, which was much higher than previous years. The second highest positives found in a year was in 2012 when around 6,000 positive samples were found.
Some important information about the disease Bachman shared was that WNV is not spread between people—birds are the reservoir species for the virus, meaning that the mosquitoes must first get it from birds before they can transmit it to any humans.
Another distinction is that the mosquitoes which often carry West Nile Virus are not the large groups of mosquitoes people encounter. Those are typically the inland floodwater species of mosquito, or Aedes vexans.
Floodwater mosquito eggs often hatch all at once because the adult female mosquito lays eggs that dry out and don’t hatch until they get wet. On years with large amounts of flooding, such as this year, all the eggs get wet and all hatch at same time.
There are 62 species of Mosquitoes in Pennsylvania, but the vast majority do not carry West Nile Virus.
“If you’re being swarmed with mosquitoes they are not the ones carrying the disease,” Bachman said. “If you’re getting swarmed you don’t have to worry about getting the virus. It’s the one mosquito you don’t feel—that’s how you get the virus.”
This year, Bachman’s team has begun to do research on Ixodes scapularis, more commonly known as the deer tick, because of the Lyme disease they carry. Pennsylvania is the worst state for Lyme disease almost, if not every, year. For this reason, the DEP’s research is being funded by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) through the Department of Health.
Bachman’s team is trying to find 50 adult deer ticks in each county in Pennsylvania to determine the rate of Lyme disease for each region of the state.
According to Bachman, it takes a lot of work to catch 50 ticks.They have to look at three different sites and so they try to pick sites they know people will be at.
Bachman said he has the most luck along the edges of soccer fields with woodlines.
Each search is different, as well. Bachman spent six days in Fulton County, PA and was unable to catch a single tick, and yet in the next county over, Bedford County, he was able to catch over 100 ticks in half an hour.
Bachman said he has a “very, very unique job. It’s more of a public health job.”
To determine the best ways to control West Nile Virus and Lyme disease, he and his peers need to understand the habitats and life cycles of the organisms that spread the illnesses.
Bachman was an environmental science major with a minor in political science. While his career is much more focussed on ideas from environmental science Bachman found his minor helpful to learn and understand environmental law and regulations.
Moreover, his political science minor taught Bachman more about public speaking, which is important as part of his career is to work with representatives of different countries who come to him for advice regarding mosquitoes and ticks.
While at Etown, Bachman was involved with the SEEDS Ecology Club. He was the club’s treasurer his senior year, which was the first year that the College had a chapter of the nationwide program.
Bachman also has a U.S. Army background as he was a member of the Army from 2005 to 2012. He first worked as an Infantry man and later he worked with hazardous materials, or hazmat.
This work in the Army with hazmat led Bachman to the job he held prior to his position with the DEP, which was a job as the hazmat supervisor at a Harley Davidson in York, PA.
One piece of advice Bachman had for students in regards to finding jobs after college is to study the jobs they are applying for closely. “Look into every detail of a job before you go to an interview,” Bachman said.
Bachman recommends students learn about as many fields as they can, and make themselves well rounded in preparation for finding a career.
Please notice the alarming statement of where Bachman finds the most ticks:
Bachman said he has the most luck along the edges of soccer fields with woodlines.
Wisconsin has cases of West Nile, La Crosse Virus, & Jamestown Canyon Virus.
Wisconsin is 4th in the nation for Lyme disease.
The CDC says the cases are hugely underestimated – more like 30,000 cases per year in WI. WI is a hotspot for newly emerging TBI – Anaplasma, Ehrlichia muris, borrelia miyamotoi (relapsing fever), Babesia divergens(in Michigan but Dr. Paskowitz feels it’s probably here too). Anaplasma seeing 400-600 cases a year in WI. Again, much underreporting.