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More Than 1,000 Dutchess Residents Taking Part In Tick Study

Disease ecologist Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld examines a rodent while conducting a field study of how environmental conditions affect the risk of tick-borne diseases.
Disease ecologist Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld examines a rodent while conducting a field study of how environmental conditions affect the risk of tick-borne diseases. Photo Credit: Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies

A surprising number of Dutchess County residents have agreed to take part in a lengthy and painstaking study of tick-borne ailments such as Lyme disease, according to a report by The Poughkeepsie Journal.

Dr. Felicia Keesing, a researcher at the Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies in Millbrook, said they planned to recruit a maximum of 1,200 property owners, and 1,100 have already signed on, The Poughkeepsie Journal reported.

Lyme is a bacterial disease spread by ticks which feed on wildlife such as deer, mice, chipmunks and squirrels. It can affect both pets and human beings.

Named after a town in southeastern Connecticut, it is seen all over the United States, but is most prevalent in the Northeast and in the upper Midwest.

According to The Poughkeepsie Journal story, scientists will be collecting ticks on the participants’ properties and also asking them to record the number of the eight-legged critters they have seen and tell the institute if they contract Lyme.

Researchers will deploy a fungus that kills ticks and will also be using bait boxes to lure in rodents and treat them with a pesticide, The Poughkeepsie Journal story said.

According to the institute, more than 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme every year.

Symptoms of the Lyme can include a skin rash and joint pain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show that the number of counties marked as Lyme hotspots rose to 260 in 2012, from 69 in 1995.

According to its website, the Cary Institute is home to the world’s longest running study on the ecology of Lyme.

The current five-year project, it said, is being carried out in Dutchess with the help of Bard College researchers.

Other “key partners” include the CDC, the New York State Department of Health, and the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health.

For more information about the institute and the study, click here.

To read the Poughkeepsie Journal story, click here.

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