January 29, 2018
The National Capital Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Association (NatCapLyme) is pleased to report on a tick drag study conducted in 2016, which was funded by a $25,000 grant from the PATH Foundation and sponsored by NatCapLyme. The purpose of the study was to learn what types of ticks were present in Fauquier County and what infections they carried.
The project was conceived of and managed by members of the Fauquier County chapter, including Elizabeth Ussery, George Phillips and Mark Hunter. The trio, concerned about the marked increase of newly infected individuals encounters at county educational events, and increased calls to their support group, decided to document the existence of disease bearing ticks in Fauquier County and to provide information to citizens, and the medical professionals who treat them.
The Clarke Company was contracted to collect the ticks and Old Dominion University Research Foundation was selected to analyze collected ticks given their extensive research experience in tick analysis.
This study provided a snapshot in time as to the presence of certain ticks and the pathogens they carry. Ixodes scapularis and Borrelia burgdorferi are widespread across the county and have high infectivity rates as high as 52%. Amblyomma americanum is also widespread and carries two Ehrlichia species (E. chaffeensis and E. swingii) at rates similar to other locations in the region. Also found were ticks carrying Anaplasma phagococytophilum (I. scapularis), and various Rickettsia species including the pathogen R. parkeri (D. variabilis) normally found in Amblyomma maculatum, as well as Borrelia miyamotoi.
NatCapLyme is continuing this important relationship with ODU in 2018 by funding further research, with a project entitled “Borrelia miyamotoi in Virginia Ticks.”
The aim of this proposal is to:
- Determine the prevalence of miyamoti in Virginia ticks. ODU’s collection includes ticks collected from numerous sites around the state so that they can look at infectivity at a site specific level as well as on a state wide level.
- Determine whether co-infection with other pathogens, in particular burgdorferi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, occurs.
- Perform analysis of life stage and sex (for adults) for infectivity prevalence, and whether ticks collected from animals have a higher prevalence of miyamotoi infection than questing ticks (i.e. those collected by flagging).
This study is an important component in our understanding of tick-borne pathogens in Virginia. In order to understand the risks from being bitten by a tick, we need to know what is being carried by the ticks. Although the prevalence of B. Miyamotoi maybe low, it is important to know if there are certain “hotspots” of tick infection with B. miyamotoi that increase the potential of human infection for residents of Virginia.