Dr. Ben Beard, PhD, Chief Bacterial Diseases Branch at the CDC, visited with Bay Area Lyme and invited guests as part of the foundation’s ongoing speaker series. This donor-sponsored forum brings together researchers and other experts in an intimate forum for topical discussions with community members. Past events have included Emerging Leader Award winners, clinicians, and patient advocates.
The next event, on Wednesday, March 2, will feature Dr. Christine Green, Director of Education for ILADS, and Allie Cashel, author of Suffering the Silence: Chronic Lyme Disease in an Age of Denial.
For more information, see Speaker Series.
As Chief of the CDC’s Bacterial Diseases Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in Fort Collins, Colorado, Dr. Beard coordinates CDC’s programs on Lyme disease, plague, and tularemia. His scientific interests include public health and the biology, ecology, and genetics of insect-borne diseases and vectors. More recently, he has been extensively involved in the CDC’s work to understand and mitigate the potential impact of climate variability and change on infectious disease ecology. He shared the CDC’s concerns about the expanding disease burden and distribution of Lyme and affirmed the importance of attracting new research interest and efforts focused on Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tara DiMilia, 908-947-0500, tara.dimilia@TMstrat.com
Bay Area Lyme Foundation Offers Free Tick Testing Nationwide
Free Tick Testing Initiative Is First In The Nation and Aims to Map Tick-borne Diseases Across the U.S. Through Crowd-sourcing
Silicon Valley, CA, February 16, 2016 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research in the US, today announced that the Foundation is the first to offer free tick testing for residents of the U.S. Testing is available through a partnership with Nate Nieto, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University and his lab. Bay Area Lyme Foundation hopes to use this crowd-sourced data as a vehicle for gaining a greater understanding of the geography of tick-borne diseases in the U.S. If successful in accumulating data, it will be the first crowd-sourced study of its kind.
Blacklegged ticks, both the Western and Eastern varieties, are often known as “deer ticks” … Does that mean deer are to blame for the spread of Lyme disease?
Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is not obvious. While deer are a common host animal for the ticks (and can carry as many as 1000 ticks per animal!), they do not support the Lyme-causing spirochete (Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria). Ticks can feed, reside, and reproduce on deer but need to come into contact with the bacteria via another host before biting a human to spread Lyme disease. So, while there is a correlation between human Lyme cases and corresponding deer populations, it has more to do with the deer enabling the expansion of the tick population than the transmission of the bacteria. Mice and ground squirrels, both of which are common hosts for both ticks and the bacteria, are much more likely to bring infected ticks into human contact (…just in case you were looking for another reason to avoid rodents!)
There are a lot of intriguing facts and misperceptions about which animals do or don’t contribute to Lyme risk. And more research is being done to evaluate exactly which layers of the food chain have the greatest impact in the proliferation or containment of the ticks and the bacteria. Here’s what we know now…