To Fight Tick-Borne Disease, Someone Has To Catch Ticks
Excerpted from NPR: 11/27/2012)
Probably half of the adult deer ticks he encountered in the woods carry some sort of pathogen like the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. And most of the ticks he collects this fall will be used for research. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 24,000 people last year in the U.S. contracted Lyme disease.
Most people try to avoid ticks. But not Tom Mather.
The University of Rhode Island researcher goes out of his way to find them.
He looks for deer ticks — poppy seed-sized skin burrowers — in the woods of southern Rhode Island. These are the teeny-tiny carriers of Lyme disease, an illness that can lead to symptoms ranging from nasty rashes to memory loss.
Mather’s not having much trouble finding deer ticks. In fact, he just might be the best deer tick collector in the country. He caught 15,000 of them last year.
His success is a sign of a growing problem. Adult-sized deer ticks are thriving throughout much of the Northeast and parts of the Midwest.