Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research results confirm need for protection against ticks that carry Lyme disease

21.07.2010
Research on the population of black-legged ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease from host animals to humans, reinforces that it is important to take preventative measures when spending time outdoors.

University of Illinois graduate student Jennifer Rydzewski conducted a four-year survey of black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks), their host animals, and their habitat preferences in Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Piatt Counties. The survey confirmed the presence of ticks in all four counties and ticks carrying Lyme disease in Piatt County. Higher numbers of ticks were found along the Des Plaines River corridor.

"Their small size makes ticks really difficult to see. They're about the size of a poppy seed," Rydzewski said.

"Ticks in the nymph stage of their life cycle are responsible for the most human cases of Lyme disease because their peak seasonal activity coincides with increased human activity outdoors during the warmer summer months, so it's important for people to take extra precautions."

In humans, early symptoms of Lyme disease are often nondescript, flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, and fatigue, making it difficult to diagnose from symptoms alone. In about 70 percent of the cases, people will develop the typical bullseye-shaped rash associated with Lyme disease. If it's caught in the early stages it can be treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics; however, if it's not treated early, the result can be long-term severe joint pain, arthritis and neurological damage. The disease is named after the town of Lyme, Connecticut, where a number of cases were identified in 1975.

Rydzewski used a disease triangle to illustrate how Lyme disease is spread. One point of the triangle is the host – in this case, it could be a mouse, deer, or other bird or small mammal. A second point on the triangle is the pathogen Borrelia burgdoferi. Bacteria, in the case of Lyme disease, are spread by a vector, the tick. The third point of the triangle is the environment. "If you remove one of these components, the system fails and the disease can no longer be maintained.

"The natural landscapes of Illinois are continually being fragmented and evolving as urban development and agriculture increase," Rydzewski said.

"It's important to understand these host/vector/pathogen interactions in a dynamic landscape. Studying this multi-host pathogen can help us to discover ways to manage either the landscape or the host in order to control the vector and the pathogen."

The white-footed mouse is a particularly competent host at maintaining the bacteria in the environment. White-tailed deer and migratory birds are important dispersal agents for ticks as they're capable of traveling long distances and depositing ticks in new areas. Rydzewski believes that deer following the river may account for the increased number of ticks found along the Des Plaines River corridor.

In the Piatt County portion of the survey, from June through October of 2005 to 2009, on approximately 24 nights per year, 200 small mammal traps within four different habitat areas were set, baited with sunflower seeds at night and retrieved the next morning. Once the traps were collected, mammals were identified, sexed and ear-tagged, ticks were removed and an ear punch was taken, which is a 2-millimeter circle biopsy of ear tissue. The ticks and ear punches were tested for presence of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease infection.

A different technique was used for the survey within forest preserves in Cook, Lake and DuPage counties. At 36 sites in the tri-county area in the spring and summer months of 2008 and 2009, tick drag cloths were used. The cloths are made from 1-square-meter corduroy attached to a wooden dowel which is dragged along the trail's edges. Every 30 seconds, the cloth was checked and ticks were removed and placed in sealed vials to be tested. Using this technique, 296 deer ticks were collected in 2008 and 306 in 2009.

Lake Cook County near Lake Michigan had the highest number of deer ticks found.

There are some fairly easy preventative measures that individuals can take in order to prevent coming into contact with ticks:

Wear light-colored clothing so it's easy to see the ticks.

Wear long sleeves and pants; tuck pants into socks or tape pants to boots.

Use insect repellent containing DEET.

Stay in the center of maintained trails.

Perform frequent tick checks when you're outside.

Do a tick check at the end of the day and again the following morning.

Put your clothes in the dryer when you come home to dry out and kill the ticks.

By way of background, in 2007 deer ticks were found within the Chicago region with 32 to 37 percent of the ticks testing positive for the disease.

"This data confirmed an increased chance of contracting Lyme disease in the metropolitan region of Chicago and sparked an interest in conducting further studies," Rydzewski said.

From the Illinois Department of Public Health, 108 human cases of Lyme disease were reported in Illinois in 2008, compared to only 35 cases in 2000. "Increased surveillance and awareness of Lyme disease may account for a portion of those cases, but there is truly a rise in emergence. And it is possible that the number of Lyme disease cases in Illinois is underreported," Rydzewski said.

Funding for the study was provided by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Earth and Society Initiative, the James Scholar Program, the Department of Natural Resource and Environmental Sciences (NRES) in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; the Illinois Natural History Survey; and Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Project W-146-R. As a result of this research, Rydzewski received a master's degree from the College of ACES Department of NRES under the supervision of U of I emeritus researcher Richard Warner and Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, wildlife veterinary epidemiologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Debra Levey Larson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular libraries for organic light-emitting diodes
24.04.2017 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular libraries for organic light-emitting diodes

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Research sheds new light on forces that threaten sensitive coastlines

24.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

24.04.2017 | Machine Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>