Monday, July 6, 2015

Blacklegged Tick Populations Have Expanded Via Migration, Penn Biologists Show

Lyme disease cases are on the rise, with diagnoses occurring in areas that were historically Lyme-free. Scientists attribute the spread to the fact that populations of blacklegged ticks, which carry the bacteria that causes the disease, now flourish in areas once thought to be devoid of ticks.

In a new study, biologists from the University of Pennsylvania, together with colleagues from the New York Department of Health and State University of New York at Albany, used genetic and phylogeographic analyses to determine the origin and recent migratory history of newly discovered tick populations in the Northeastern United States. Their findings indicate that the ticks moved into new areas from established populations, mainly through short-distance, local moves. The results shed light on patterns of disease spread and could have implications for strategies to control ticks in order to reduce disease.

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