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Welcome to the Public Tick IPM Working Group!

The goal of the Public Tick IPM Working Group is to organize and expand the network working to reduce the risk of exposure to infected ticks by collaborating on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and ITM related activities, exchanging knowledge and sharing resources effectively.

There are a total of seventeen tick-borne diseases within the US, with eleven diseases known to infect humans (http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/). The most common of these is Lyme disease, of which CDC estimates there are 30,000 diagnosed cases each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2019). Ticks and the pathogens they carry are an emerging issue in the North Central Region. The Working Group welcomes both government and nongovernment members and works to complement the efforts of the existing federal group. Funding for the Working Group is provided by the USDA North Central IPM Center.

Here you will find information on our activities, past conference call meeting minutes and links to related resourcesFind out more about our Working Group and how to get involved.

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Crop Protection and Pest Management Program through the North Central IPM Center (2018-70006-28883)

Tick Populations May Be Higher Than Last Summer

Mild winters and an upward trend in climate both are contributing to an increase in tick populations this year. Since ticks flourish in warm, humid environments, the combination of a wet winter and humid summer is causing higher tick numbers this summer. This is because the arthropod life cycle is accelerated in these conditions. Warm and humid conditions also favor tick hosts including deer and mice, further accelerating tick density. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show tick bites are at higher levels than past years. South Central, Northeast and Midwest regions are seeing this trend more so than other areas of the U.S. Ticks such as the American dog tick and blacklegged tick are active – species known to cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, respectively. To avoid these tick-borne diseases, apply tick repellent or wear permethrin-treated clothing if hiking through wooded, brushy areas. After coming in from outdoors, shower and throw clothes and gear into the dryer to kill any ticks. To keep ticks away from yards, keep grass mowed, shrubs trimmed and leaves raked. If bitten by a tick, remove it immediately by grasping the tick with a tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pulling directly upwards. Removed ticks can be flushed down the toilet, placed in alcohol, sealed in a bag, lit with a lighter or wrapped in tape. The tick may be kept for testing if symptoms occur after being bit. Visit the tickreport.com for information on how to send in ticks for testing. Results will be available within three business days after the tick arrives to the lab. Read more about tick population levels and how to stay safe this summer at https://www.prevention.com/health/a36558703/tick-time-bomb-summer-2021/.

Recent study published that utilized citizen science to help predict the distribution of black-legged ticks

Ticks and tick-borne diseases are expanding and its import to monitor their distributions. Surveillance is usually passive and relies on case reports. While case reports offer estimates of the number of tick-borne disease cases, they lack information about vector population or pathogen dynamics. Disease risk is most commonly determined through active surveillance i.e. collecting ticks. Active surveillance provides information about ticks and sylvatic pathogens; however, this method is resource-intensive and results in little data. This data gap doesn’t offer great opportunities to model or identify range changes. Citizen science can be used to gather more data across a larger area with little resources and creates diverse samples, providing effective tracking of changes in vectors and pathogens. Rapidly changing environments due to increased human population and climate change can benefit from such citizen science initiatives. Read the full study here: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0244754

Nootkatone, an effective and safe alternative to repelling ticks, receives EPA registration

Last month, Nootkatone received EPA registration. Nootkatone is a naturally-derived substance from cedar and grapefruit. Initial results from research trials show that Nootkatone is a promising alternative to DEET. What’s even better is that Nootkatone is not harmful to non-target species, such as bees. Nootkatone is also not harmful to humans. In fact, you may have drunk the substance – it can be found in drinks as a natural flavoring, including Squirt.

Nootkatone, which was originally assessed as a repellent for the main mosquito vector responsible for the spread of the Zika virus, has potential for use against Ixodes tick vectors of Lyme disease. The only problem is that, since the funding is currently catered towards products that repel mosquitos, there isn’t enough funding to make a soap product to repel ticks since soap has shown to not be effective in repelling mosquitos. Researchers are pushing that funding be made available for a soap product to be produced as a safe, effective way of reducing the exposure to tick-born diseases.

New York Times Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/10/health/tick-mosquito-repellant-nootkatone.html

Tick researchers seek to learn if you’re spending more time outdoors because of COVID-19 restrictions

Researchers from five universities want to find out if restrictions related to COVID-19 have increased individuals’ time outdoors and, in turn, their risk of coming in contact with ticks and getting the diseases they carry. One of those is the blacklegged tick, or deer tick, which carries Lyme and other dangerous disease-causing germs.

To gather information, the team is asking people across the country to fill out a 10- to 15- minute survey to see if people’s outdoor habits have changed. Researchers from Hollins University, Duke University and Clemson University have joined the University of Georgia and URI as part of the research team.

University of Rhode Island Professor of Public Health Entomology Tom Mather said this is an important national survey to understand how stay at-home restrictions may change people’s outdoor behaviors and practices, putting them at greater risk for developing Lyme disease and other serious illnesses associated with tick bites. Findings may suggest that self-isolation restrictions need to come with increased tick prevention education.

Please take the survey through the following link: https://ugeorgia.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8kctqb7neC2Pyvj

Article: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-05-youre-outdoors-covid-restrictions.html


First Recognized Human Bite in the United States by the Asian Longhorned Tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis

A case summary published in late May in Clinical Infectious Diseases recognizes the first human to have been bitten by the Haemaphysalis longicornis tick in the United States, which occurred in New York State in 2018. The Asian longhorned tick was first formally detected in the U.S. on a sheep in New Jersey in 2017.

Article: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/06/07/730443421/asias-longhorned-tick-takes-its-first-documented-bite-in-the-u-s

Paper: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bryon_Backenson/publication/333579400_First_Recognized_Human_Bite_in_the_United_States_by_the_Asian_Longhorned_Tick_Haemaphysalislongicornis/links/5d07ab66299bf1f539ca0998/First-Recognized-Human-Bite-in-the-United-States-by-the-Asian-Longhorned-Tick-Haemaphysalislongicornis.pdf

Tick threat not necessarily linked to longer grass in urban backyards

In a recent publication, USDA Forest Service researchers Susannah Lerman and Vince D’Amico report on their quest to get to the bottom of a common assumption that ticks like long grass. They tested the hypothesis that lawn mowing frequency influences tick occurrence in 16 suburban yards in Springfield, MA. by conducted tick drags in lawns of various lawn mowing frequencies . They  did not collect any ticks of any species. Promoting frequent mowing (i.e., shorter lawns) and the removal of grass clippings could have minimal impacts on tick microhabitats, but is consequential for beneficial wildlife and other ecosystem services associated with urban biodiversity.”

Science Daily Article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190403155411.htm

PLOS One Article: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0214615

Ted Talk about the threat Ticks pose to Human Health

In this talk, we learn about the dangerous threats that the expansion of ticks in the world means to human health. Mary Beth Pfeiffer is the nation’s leading investigative reporter on Lyme disease, winning seven awards since 2012 for her reporting on the tick-borne scourge. She recently authored the book Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change, which has been endorsed by Jane Goodall and Bill McKibbon and praised as “superbly written” and a “powerful wakeup call.”

Use think link to view the talk.

Distribution, Host-Seeking Phenology, and Host and Habitat Associations of Haemaphysalis longicornis Ticks, Staten Island, New York, USA

 Haemaphysalis longicornis, an invasive Ixodid tick, was recently reported in the eastern United States. The emergence of these ticks represents a potential threat for livestock, wildlife, and human health. We describe the distribution, host-seeking phenology, and host and habitat associations of these ticks on Staten Island, New York, a borough of New York City.

See full article: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/25/4/18-1541_article

Tick-borne disease is multiple microbial in nature

A study recently published in Scientific Reports discovered that 65% of Lyme disease patients irrespective of their disease stage respond to several microbes. As a consequence, the authors have demonstrated that microbial infections in individuals suffering from Lyme disease do not follow the “one microbe, one disease” status-quo. Moreover, the probability that Lyme disease patients would respond to multiple microbes associated with the tick-borne disease is an astounding 85 %.

Article: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20181101/Tick-borne-disease-is-multiple-microbial-in-nature.aspx

Paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-34393-9?fbclid=IwAR3k-zPy2rJu8OuFl3HHqJ0twLPJvQrxiIUALUs0T-BuuJ50_1VQVwcflIQ