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Lyme Disease in northern NY

Since 2014, students (Allie Provost, Dave Bowman, and Hope VanBrocklin) and I have been dragging felt cloths at various sites and habitat in northern NY to assess Lyme disease prevalence. We have captured and processed over 300 black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) using Qiagen DNA extraction spin columns, PCR, and agarose gel electrophoresis. The goal of our first summer of research was to assess habitat(e.g., meadow, forest edge, forest interior, wetland edge, disturbed) and NY site-level (Plattsburgh/Chazy, Watertown, Ausable/Chesterfield) differences in prevalence. Results suggest few ticks and Lyme incidences in Watertown, NY and more cases at the forest edge microsite level.


Thus far in spring/summer 2015, we have been finding very few ticks since mid-June, albeit those we are finding are testing positive. By far, the highest risk site is Wickham Marsh Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Essex Cty NY.

Mostly female black-legged ticks from one drag of felt cloth at Wickham Marsh Wildlife Management Area, Essex Cty NY late May/early June 2015
Lyme disease signage at Pt au Roche Park, Clinton Cty NY
Hope VanBrocklin surveying for ticks in Watertown, NY
 6 adult male black-legged ticks
Borrelia busters with Grace DeSantis, Adolfo Paulo de Mattos Junio, and Matt Smith at Chazy Recreation Park
Adolfo Paulo de Mattos Junior loading a Lyme PCR gel
 
Lyme gel running
 
3 adult female black-legged ticks
Our tally of ticks and Lyme postives by site 2015 with Adolfo Paolo de Mattos Junior and Matt Smith
Matt Smith loading a DNA extraction gel
 
Tick dragging at Ausable Point Wildlife Management Area
 
Allie Provost doing a Lyme PCR sample into gel
 Dave Bowman spinning our DNA extractions
 
Lyme PCR gel
 Tick dragging technique
Dave Bowman getting ready to drag for ticks at his disturbance site
Typical collection from the tick cloth at Ausable Marsh WMA...a northern leopard frog. This site has never yielded a tick, but billions of frogs!
 
Typical week in the lab summer 2015
 Allie Provost loading a Lyme PCR agarose gel
 Dave Bowman dragging for ticks
 Allie Provost happy to be in the lab

Summer 2015, we have shifted focus to look in Clinton and Essex counties in sites that have strong recreational ties (e.g., Recreation parks, Wildlife Management Areas, day-care, golf courses, residence) where residents and visitors might encounter Lyme. Additionally, we have been assisting with Trudeau Institute (PIs. Drs. Tim Sellati and Brian Leydet and other researchers) on their small mammal sampling efforts at their Lyme monitoring sites.