Tick surveillance and control needed in United States, A&M study shows

Image: CDC/James Gathany

The prevalence of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses has steadily
increased in the U.S. over the past 20 years. Now, an inaugural nationwide
study of tick surveillance and control describes a clear need for more funding and coordination among programs across the country.

Among the coauthors is a Texas A&M AgriLife researcher, Pete Teel, a Regents Professor in the Texas A&M Department of Entomology. Teel said that while Texas has monitored and controlled ticks since 1893, a nationwide database is needed.

The study’s authors surveyed 140 vector-borne disease professionals working at state, county and local agencies in fall 2018. Reaching even that many respondents proved challenging, the authors said. No central database of tick-management programs or contacts was available.

The survey’s aim was to learn about programs’ objectives and capabilities for tick surveillance and control. Respondents were also asked whether they tested ticks for disease-causing germs, and about barriers to success.

Nationwide, less than half of public health and vector-control agencies
engage in active tick surveillance, according to the survey. Only 12 percent of the surveyed agencies directly conduct or otherwise support tick-control efforts.

The study appeared on June 17 in the Journal of Medical Entomology.
In addition to Teel, the authors were from Cornell University; University of Florida, Gainesville; University of California, Davis; University of Illinois; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Vector-Borne Diseases. The authors are also affiliated with the CDC’s five Vector-Borne Disease Regional Centers of Excellence.

More at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences