BAR HARBOR, MAINE – MDI Biological Laboratory’s Science Café virtual talk, at 5:00pm on Monday, October 19, 2020, will focus on something that causes concern for many New Englanders – ticks. In “Tick Talk: Understanding the Socio-Ecological Drivers of the Emergence of Lyme Disease in Maine”, presented by Allison Gardner, Ph.D., will focus on the ecological and social factors that have seen a rapid spread of the Blacklegged, or Deer, tick across Maine since the 1980s, when it was first found within the state.
A medical entomologist, Gardner’s research focuses the ecology of infectious diseases of humans and wildlife that are transmitted by arthropod vectors, such as mosquitoes or ticks. Her current project on the Blacklegged tick and Lyme disease focuses on the spread of this particular variety of tick, the pathogens it transmits that cause disease, and management strategies to inhibit tick-borne diseases in both humans and wildlife. In people, these diseases include human babesiosis, human granulocytic anaplasmosis, Powassan virus, and Lyme disease – of which Maine has experienced a five-fold incidence increase (in humans) over the past decade.
It is important to remain vigilant of ticks even as the weather cools, especially as more people are taking to the outdoors as a way to safely maintain physical distance but still able to catch up socially. Adult Blacklegged ticks are active from October to May, as long as temperatures remain above freezing. If someone is bitten by a tick, they should consult a medical professional. The onus is on the person bitten to get the tick analyzed, which can be done for a small fee the University of Maine Extension Tick Lab. Results will show if it was a Blacklegged tick and which of the three disease-causing organisms it might be harboring.
Dr. Allison Gardner holds a Ph.D. in Entomology, M.S. in Statistics, and M.S. in Veterinary Pathobiology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Biology and Ecology, and a cooperating faculty member in the Ecology and Environmental Sciences program, the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, and the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering at the University of Maine. Dr. Gardner’s other research projects include investigating the ecology of a mosquito vector for Zika virus in the Caribbean, and understanding the interactions between risk of exposure to vector-borne disease and economic interests (e.g., timber harvesting, tourism) at local and international spatial scales.
Those wishing to attend this online event are asked to register in advance at mdibl.org/events.