Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ouch! Volunteers Get Tick Bites for Science

We all know that some ticks bite, but just how eager certain species are to feed on humans, and how quickly people react to their bites, is less clear in some cases. A new study attempted to answer these questions for the lone star tick, by having the bugs feed on the arms of volunteers.

Lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum) are common in the Southern United States, although they are also found in the Eastern and South-Central U.S., and they are known to bite people. But until now, no study had examined their bites in a laboratory setting, where researchers can be sure that the bites came from a lone star tick, and can control how long the ticks feed, said study researcher Jerome Goddard, an entomologist at Mississippi State University.

An image of ticks inside a bottle cap that was attached to volunteers' arms

In the new study, 10 people — including Goddard and his wife — volunteered to let the ticks feed on them for 15 ....

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