The Vermont Agency of Agriculture conducts surveillance for ticks to look for tick-borne diseases. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) laboratory technique is used to look for specific genetic material to identify pathogens. Unfortunately, our laboratory cannot test ticks for the general public.
In 2015, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture began looking at how many ticks occur in a given area (tick density) and testing these ticks for disease (disease prevalence). A white flannel “flag” is waved along the ground over a 100-meter transect, stopping every 10 meters to collect any ticks from the cloth. This flagging technique samples only for ticks that are actively “questing” for a host. In 2016, we completed our first statewide survey (all 14 counties) looking for ticks in the spring and the fall, representing 86 towns.
We test the ticks we have collected for the following tick-borne diseases, all of which have been diagnosed in humans in Vermont.
- Lyme disease - Borrelia burgdorferi
- Anaplasmosis - Anaplasma phagocytophilum
- Babesiosis - Babesia microti
- Relapsing fever - Borrelia miyamotoi
- Powassan virus
*Banner photo source: http://www.vdci.net/tick-control-and-management-services-for-vector-disease-prevention