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Research Project: ECOLOGICAL, CHEMICAL AND MOLECULAR APPROACHES TO REDUCING TICK BITES AND TICK-BORNE DISEASES

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases

2005 Annual Report


1.What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? What does it matter?
Ticks are considered the most important vectors of disease agents affecting livestock. In the US, ticks are responsible for more human cases of vector-borne diseases than any other group of arthropods. The viral, bacterial, and protozoan pathogens transmitted by ticks cause debilitating and sometimes deadly illnesses. In this country, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichioses, babesiosis and Lyme disease are some of the more notorious tick-borne ailments. Some tick species of veterinary importance, such as cattle fever ticks, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus), pose a continuous threat of introduction and establishment in this country. In the U. S., reported human cases of Lyme disease continue to trend upward. An increased suburban demography combined with expanding population densities and ranges of some tick species exacerbates the risk of tick bites. Apart from suffering and death, human and livestock diseases also incur considerable costs for care and loss of work or growth.

The goals of this research are to discover and develop new environmentally acceptable technologies that reduce the risk of tick-borne illnesses in humans and domesticated animals. These goals are stated objectives of ARS National Program 104, Arthropod Pest Animals and Humans. More specifically, tick populations may be controlled by means of host self-treatment devices and by manipulation of tick behavior by use of semiochemicals. These approaches address the problems described in National Program 104: a lack of environmentally safe methods for control of pests and pathogens, lack of effective field-ready methods for control of arthropod pests and pathogens, and lack of tools for area-wide integrated management of arthropod pests of animals and humans and their associated pathogens. The chemical ecology studies address the problem of inadequate knowledge of factors affecting pest infestation in animals and humans. Chemically mediated behaviors involved in host- and mate-finding by ticks, including deterrent effects from host-produced and -acquired compounds will be elucidated. Ecologically based strategies and systems using kairomones, pheromones, attractants, toxicants and repellents to reduce tick populations and tick bites will be developed. Modifications to improve operation of ‘4-poster’ deer self-treatment tick control devices by reducing squirrel usage will be evaluated. Accomplishment of the proposed objectives will result in technologies that can be used to reduce tick populations and protect persons and domesticated animals from tick bites and tick-borne disease. New repellents, attractants and acaricides and novel use of existing compounds will mean fewer cases of tick-borne diseases, allow greater use of areas currently heavily infested with ticks, and provide protection to military personnel at domestic bases and entering tick habitats abroad. A better understanding of tick host- and mate-finding behaviors will provide the basis for development of new control strategies. The research will result in a better understanding of basic tick biology and physiology and of the intimate associations between tick vector, host and pathogen.


2.List the milestones (indicators of progress) from your Project Plan.
Objective 1 Milestone 1 – Laboratory tests of javelina extracts (12 months)

Milestone 2 – Ascertain possible role of vibrations in finding conspecifics (24 months)

Milestone 3 – Electrophysiological test of kairomonal compounds (36 months)

Milestone 4 – Laboratory test of behavior disruptant (48 months)

Milestone 5 – Small scale field test of conspecific finding (60 months)

Objective 2 Milestone 1 – Complete evaluation of squirrel excluder (12 months)

Milestone 2 – Evaluation of DoD formulation of SS220 repellent (24 months)

Milestone 3 – Field test of repellents (36 months)

Milestone 4 – Field test of attractants (48 months)

Milestone 5 – Field test of behavior disruptants to determine whether they afford protection from tick bite (60 months)


4a.What was the single most significant accomplishment this past year?
Data collected thus far demonstrates that modifications to ‘4-poster’ tick control device to reduce use by squirrels are effective. Squirrels eat corn bait used in ‘4-posters’ in such a way that crumbs and corn meal can clog the flow of corn into feeding troughs and thereby compromise the effective operation of the devices. ‘4-posters’ were retrofitted by cooperators at Knipling-Bushland U. S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory, Kerrville, TX with a mechanism (controlled by photo sensor) that automatically blocks corn flow into feeding troughs during the day, when squirrels are active.


4b.List other significant accomplishments, if any.
Less than 6 months since start of project.


4c.List any significant activities that support special target populations.
None.


4d.Progress report.
None.


5.Describe the major accomplishments over the life of the project, including their predicted or actual impact.
Less than 6 months since start of project.


6.What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end-user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products?
Less than 6 months since start of project.

Consulted by a research of the Nature Conservancy about the feasibility of using ‘4-poster’ technology for tick control on Shelter Island, NY. Advised NASA Goddard on operation of ‘4-poster’ devices on their property. Consulted by a researcher of the Lyme Disease Association of the Lower Eastern Shore about tick infection rates on the Eastern Shore of MD.


7.List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below).
Interviewed for article on repellents in Baltimore Sun, June, 2005.

Presentations:

Reported on planned tick repellent evaluation under simulated field conditions to Repellents Committee of Armed Forces Pest Management Board, Silver Spring, MD, July, 2005.


   

 
Project Team
Carroll, John
 
Project Annual Reports
  FY 2009
  FY 2008
  FY 2007
  FY 2006
  FY 2005
 
Publications
   Publications
 
Related National Programs
  Veterinary, Medical and Urban Entomology (104)
 
Patents
  Method To Prepare A Natural Mosquito And Tick Repellent From Pine Oil
  Method To Repel Mosquitoes And Ticks Using Naturally Occurring Compound
 
 
Last Modified: 03/04/2010
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