Indiana University (IU) researchers say they have an increased number of ticks that carry Lyme disease in Southern Indiana.
The organisms, deer ticks, are not yet confirmed to carry Lyme disease. However, IU researchers have said that the presence of a known disease vector – as in a deer tick – is usually caused by the pathogens.
The discovery goes back to a newly launched project of the IU Environmental Resilience Institute and to understand the Grand Challenge prepared for environmental change and to protect against disease-transmitting organisms in the state. Project Vector Shield will regularly collect ticks and mosquitoes on the southern, eastern and western borders of the state and analyze whether they carry diseases that are dangerous to humans.
The project is being launched at the same time as a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the transmission of diseases from ticks, mosquitoes and fleas has tripled since 2004, including the discovery or discovery of nine diseases never before seen in the US
"Changes in climate, temperature and weather conditions as well as human activities such as international travel are all contributing to the movement of disease vectors into a new region," said IU Distinguished Professor of Biology Keith Clay, a director of Project Vector Shield. "But the only way to quickly discover new species or diseases entering an area is to have regular, long-term data collection that is rare, and there is really no one to do such a sustained surveillance project at the state level."  Deer ticks – also known as blackleg ticks – are currently not appearing on CDC maps in southern or central Indiana. However, the Project Vector Shield data suggests that this "safe zone" may be much smaller than previously thought – or absent.
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