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Disease-carrying colonizers on the move: Predicting the spread of ticks across Canada
Date:3/5/2012

This release is available in French.

Researchers are watching as ticks that carry Lyme disease colonize Canada, but their research aims to predict the communities most likely to be hit by this sickness. "Our findings will help community groups and government agencies to alert the Canadians who may be at risk of picking up Lyme disease those of us who like to visit the outdoors in spring and summer, when nymphal ticks are active but difficult to spot because of their size," said lead author Patrick Leighton of the University of Montreal's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Nymphal ticks are ticks that have not yet reached full maturity. "Identifying where the ticks are setting up home helps pinpoint where Lyme disease risk will occur before people start getting the disease".

Changes in temperature are one of the most important factors that have contributed to the spreading of tick populations across Canada since 1990. As average temperatures continue to increase over the coming decades, the area where ticks may live and reproduce will continue to reach further north. Lyme-transmitting ticks were virtually unknown in Canada in 1990, but today they may be found in areas where 18% of the country's population lives. This figure will rise to 80% in eastern Canada by 2020, according to the researchers' findings.

The parasites travel long-distance from the United States to settle new areas by attaching themselves to migratory birds, and once they have arrived, they colonize local areas by feeding on deer and small animals such as mice, squirrels and chipmunks.

The researchers' prediction model was partially built on citizen participation and it was confirmed by research that was literally undertaken in the field. Pet owners bring ticks to their family veterinarians, who are then able to provide data to public health officials regarding wher
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Contact: Becky Allen
beckyallen@ntlworld.com
44-122-357-0016
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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