A scientific paper, Active surveillance of pathogens from ticks collected in New York State suburban parks and schoolyards (2017-2018), was published in July of 2020. Four NYSIPM Staff– Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, Joellen Lampman, Dr. Elizabeth Lamb, and Dr. Matt Frye are among the authors. The increasing number of cases of tick-borne disease prompted this work, and its success will help identify their risks to New Yorkers’ health and the health of their pets and livestock.
Why? The goal of this study was to highlight the importance of active surveillance for tick-borne pathogens, by describing their prevalence in ticks collected from school yards and suburban parks, and to guide the use of integrated pest management in these settings.
Study sites included 32 parks and the grounds of 19 schools on Long Island, in the lower Hudson Valley, and in the NY’s Capital Region. Ticks were collected from the environment using white flannel tick drag cloths, either using a transect protocol for school grounds or a presence-absence scheme in parks.
Collected ticks were primarily Ixodes scapularis (blacklegged tick), plus: the newly invasive Haemaphysalis longincornis (Asian longhorned tick), Ixodes dentatus, and Dermacentor variabilis (dog tick).
Ticks were then sent on to the Cornell Animal Health Diagnostic Center for analysis of pathogen presence, with details such as collection site, time of day and weather conditions, life stage.
Experts tested all I. scapularis for the presence of 17 different pathogens. Diseases found in the ticks collectedin 2017-2018 included: Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease), Anaplasma phagocytophilum (anaplasmosis), Babesia microti (Babesiosis), Borrelia miyamotoi, Powassan virus, Heartland virus, Rickettsia, and SFTSV. In some cases, a tick carried two or three pathogens.
What does this mean for you?
-Ticks are commonly found where athletic fields border woodlots. Schools should monitor their grounds for ticks and consult with extension services to understand the risks.
-Encourage school officials to contact the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program for help developing a plan to manage tick risks while minimizing impact on the health of people and the environment.
-Understand that social distancing while hiking may push you towards the edges of even wide, flat trails, so you may brush up against vegetation with ticks–It’s important for park and wildlife preserve visitors take protective measures.
-Help increase awareness across all residential areas, public spaces, and rural areas of the Northeast.
-The distribution of Powassan virus on Long Island is broader than previously documented. Powassan virus can be transmitted after just minutes of attachment.
-Preventative measures including frequent tick checks and permethrin-treated clothing are important year-round to prevent tick bites.
-Dogs, cats, and horses are susceptible to tick-borne diseases and should be monitored and treated in consultation with your veterinarian.
Note: This surveillance study captured the first sample of the invasive Asian longhorned tick species, Haemaphysalis longicornis, in NY.
For resources on tick-borne disease, go to https://www.neregionalvectorcenter.com/
Congratulations to all collaborators:
Qin Yuan, Sebastian G. Llanos‐Soto, Jody L. Gangloff‐Kaufmann, Joellen M. Lampman, Matthew J. Frye, Meghan C. Benedict, Rebecca L. Tallmadge, Patrick K. Mitchell, Renee R. Anderson, Brittany D. Cronk, Bryce J. Stanhope, Ava R. Jarvis, Manigandan Lejeune, Randall W. Renshaw, Melissa Laverack, Elizabeth M. Lamb, Laura B. Goodman.
Development of the tick‐borne disease nanoscale PCR panel was supported by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) Innovation Award to LBG and sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific. Research carried out by SGL‐S was supported by the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine through a Graduate Research Award.
Thank you to project funders: This work was supported by a grant from the New York State Senate Task Force on Lyme and Tick‐Borne Disease to the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Cornell University/Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector‐Borne Diseases.