Study shows growing tick populations in Colorado

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Ticks and tick-borne diseases shows that disease-carrying ticks are a new threat in Colorado.

The results show that American dog ticks are present in 16 counties in Colorado where they had not previously been identified by the CDC.

In addition, Rocky Mountain wood ticks are found in 38 of Colorado’s 64 counties, while previously only being identified in 33.

The study used multiple sources for the study, including ticks collected by citizen scientists through a free tick testing program offered by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

“The key takeaway from this study is that outdoors, Coloradans need to take preventive measures against ticks, such as,” said Linda Giampa, executive director of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation.

Citizen Science

“This ecology study illustrates the power of using citizen science, and we are grateful for the more than 20,000 ticks submitted to our national program that made this study possible.”

The study, conducted by researchers at Colorado State University and funded by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, aimed to quantify the current prevalence of Rocky Mountain wood ticks at the county level. Dermacentor Andersoniand American dog ticks, Dermacentor variabilis.

The study evaluated tick data collected by citizen scientists and evaluated at Northern Arizona University as part of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s free tick testing program, prevalence data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, veterinary surveillance at Oklahoma State University, and literature data.

“It was interesting for us to see American dog ticks in unexpected counties in Colorado, apparently invading from nearby states or traveling with people and pets. And also to show that Rocky Mountain wood ticks appear to mostly inhabit higher elevation counties than American dog ticks,” said co-author Daniel Salkeld, PhD, Colorado State University.

A red flag

“This study is a warning sign of the need to increase on-site tick surveillance at the county level and to take precautions and know the symptoms of tick-borne diseases at the individual level.”

Rocky Mountain Wood ticks and American dog ticks are both known carriers of Rickettsia rickettsii, which causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a disease that is on the rise in the United States. They wear too Francisella tularensis what causes tularemiaa potentially life-threatening disease that has seen an increase in incidence in recent data.

According to this study, both types of ticks have been found on humans and dogs. Rocky Mountain wood ticks appear to be more attracted to humans, with this tick accounting for 58% of ticks attached to humans compared to the American dog tick, which accounts for 92% of ticks attached to dogs.

“The citizen science approach was critical in supporting our efforts as widespread active surveillance programs in Colorado have struggled due to the state’s diverse terrain and no counties in Colorado regularly conduct them,” said lead author Elizabeth Freeman, MPH, Colorado State University.

More monitoring required

“Knowing that there is a risk of encountering both the Rocky Mountain wood tick and the American dog tick in Colorado, there should be more motivation to continue improving surveillance studies to fully understand the public’s risk of disease.”

Citizen Scientists collected and made available the ticks evaluated in the study as part of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s free tick testing program, which collected more than 20,400 ticks, of which 8,954 are ticks Ixodes Ticks, which can transmit the most common tick-borne pathogens.

This new study builds on previous ones Research to identify ticks that can transmit Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases in 83 counties (in 24 states) where these ticks had not been previously recorded.

Some of the new county reports are likely due to travel-related exposures (e.g., Montana), but many counties, like those in Colorado, are in close proximity to previously known locations, illustrating either the spread of ticks or the need for increased surveillance on site.

The research was conducted through a partnership between the Bay Area Lyme Foundation, Northern Arizona University, Colorado State University and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Interactive Maps show the distribution of collected tick species by county, including western blackleg tick, blackleg tick, American dog tick, solitary star tick. The prevalence of Rocky Mountain ticks in this study has not been previously assessed and reported.

Ticks sent to the initiative from January 2016 to August 2019 were tested free of charge. This data was categorized, matched and recorded and made available to the submitter. Ticks have been submitted from all states except Alaska. The program saw a six-fold increase in tick submissions compared to original estimates, representing unprecedented national coordination of a citizen science effort and diagnostic investigation.

Click here to read the study.

SOURCE: Bay Area Lyme Foundation

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