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The Tick Project [Research]

Lead Scientist(s): Dr Richard S Ostfeld

The Tick Project is a five-year study to determine whether neighborhood-based prevention can reduce human cases of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. The methods we are testing are simple and safe for people, pets, and the environment.

The study is taking place in Dutchess County, New York, which is home to some of the nation۪s highest rates of Lyme disease incidence. We are recruiting residents of twenty-four neighborhoods to participate in the project. Each neighborhood consists of 6-10 square blocks and roughly 100 properties.

The study will determine whether two tick control methods, used separately or together, can reduce the number of cases of Lyme disease at the neighborhood level.

The Tick Control System™, or TCS , is a small box that attracts small mammals. When an animal enters the box, it receives a small dose of fipronil, the active ingredient in many tick treatments used on dogs and cats. Fipronil kills ticks on animals like mice and chipmunks, which are largely responsible for infecting ticks with the Lyme bacterium.

Metarhizium anisopliae is a fungus that occurs naturally in forest soils in eastern North America. It has been shown to kill ticks. A strain of this fungus, Met52, has been developed as a commercial product. It can be sprayed on vegetation where it kills ticks looking for hosts on which to feed.

The study will answer once and for all whether we can prevent cases of tick-borne disease by treating the areas around people۪s homes. If this approach prevents disease, we will be able to recommend plans that could be immediately adopted by local municipalities, governments, community groups, or neighborhoods.

To learn more, visit: www.tickproject.org