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Navy Preventive Medicine Unit Collaborates with Old Dominion University on Tick Research

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) — The Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit Two (NEPMU-2) began collaboration Nov. 17-20, with Old Dominion University (ODU) on a study to assess threats posed by various tick species in Virginia.

NEPMU-2 personnel assisted in the surveillance and trapping of small mammals at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. Mammals were retrieved daily and observed for ticks; the ticks were removed and cataloged for further analysis. The mammals were released unharmed and well groomed.

“It’s surprising to see how many ticks we found on a single specimen,” said Hospital Corpsman Seaman Derek Galvao, NEPMU-2 Preventive Medicine Technician. “This underscores the importance knowing of what’s out there and the potential risk to humans.”

The study began in 2009 at ODU to determine the ecology of ticks in Virginia. Which species are present? What pathogens do they carry? How does seasonality influence population and pathogen prevalence? These are a few of the questions researchers are asking.

During the four day period of this evolution personnel set out 120 traps. The total number of mammals and ticks found were 26 and 80 respectively. The ticks will be identified to species and will have their DNA extracted. The DNA will then be tested using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for presence of pathogens which can cause diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI). The data will ultimately be used as a model to determine entomological risk and tick/pathogen interaction.

“Understanding how ticks interact with their hosts and the environment is critical in developing models which can predict potential for pathogen transmission,” said Dr. Holly Gaff, Professor at ODU and the study’s principle investigator. “The study will assist in developing new strategies and methodologies to reduce the threat of tick-borne disease.”

For more information on NEPMU-2 visit: http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nepmu2/Pages/default.aspx

For more news from Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmcphc/.

Article source: http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=92179

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