Susan Paskewitz tells the fate of ticks after this winter, and what the public can do to progress tick research.
2:59 – Total Time
0:20 – Cold winter no help
0:44 – New tick to look out for
1:21 – Growing human health challenges
2:09 – New research starts this spring
2:35 – Where to get more information
2:49 – Lead out
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Sevie Kenyon: Susan, can you start out by telling us a little bit about what happened to ticks over winter?
Susan Paskewitz: So I think everybody in Wisconsin is probably hoping that this really hard winter might have knocked down the populations a little bit, and I’m going to guess that in places where the snow came down early, and stayed, that there was a nice insulating layer down close enough. So maybe it won’t have impacted the deer ticks at all.
Sevie Kenyon: What kind of new developments have you seen over the last couple of years?
Susan Paskewitz: We have a new tick in the state called the lonestar tick. Now I’ve found them in a couple different places, still at really low levels, but there’s the possibility now that the Lonestar has become established in Wisconsin. Because they’re adapted to more southern conditions, they may have been really knocked back. So what I need is for anybody who finds a lonestar tick, to send it to me. If you can’t send it to me take a picture, but I’d really actually rather have the sample in my hand. That could come in a plastic bag, in a little medicine bottle, I don’t care how you send it, but I really want to hear about it, and I’d really like to receive it.
Sevie Kenyon: Susan, what are some of the human health challenges?
Susan Paskewitz: There are now a lot of different pathogens that are being transmitted by deer ticks. We know if at least six things that are circulating in Wisconsin. Some of them the medical community is not as familiar with. One example would be disease called Anaplasmosis. We have about five or six hundred cases of Anaplasmosis in humans in Wisconsin every year. We have at least three thousand, but maybe closer to thirty thousand cases of Lyme disease in Wisconsin citizens every year. And so I think one of the challenges is just making sure that the medical community and the public stay aware of the need to really focus on checking yourself for ticks when you’ve been in an area; checking your children, checking your pets and animals to make sure that they’re not being exposed.
Sevie Kenyon: Susan, what sorts of research projects do you have underway?
Susan Paskewitz: So one exciting new thing that we’re trying this year is to see if we can figure out ways to suppress the tick populations to reduce ticks, and we’re going to try to do that by actually targeting the mice. And what we want to try to do is provide the mouse with some nesting material, some cotton, that’s been impregnated with a pesticide that will kill the ticks.
Sevie Kenyon: Susan, if people are interested in more information about ticks, what should they do?
Susan Paskewitz: They should go to my website, and they can find my website by Googling “Wisconsin ticks”. That’s also a really good way if you want my contact information, so that you can send me a tick, or send me pictures of ticks, to find that information.
Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Susan Paskewitz, Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin, and I am Sevie Kenyon.