Anna Pasternak has been working for nearly two years trying to analyze and collect data on ticks around Kentucky. As a graduate assistant in entomology at the University of Kentucky, she is a part of a tick surveillance program identifying what types of ticks live here and if they carry pathogens.

Little to no data has been collected on ticks from Scott County, Pasternak said.  

“Kentucky, has never, previous to this program, had any kind of tick surveillance done,” Pasternak said. Mosquitoes have been the focus before, she said. 

When surveillance is done on a tick Pasternak is looking to see what species of tick is most common in Kentucky, where they are and if a species is common in a certain area, she said.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease are two illnesses being researched as a part of the tick surveillance program.  

“I’m looking at ticks as vectors,” Pasternak said. “A vector is anything that transmits illness from one to another.”

Tick-borne diseases are one of the most common vector diseases to people in the world, she said.  

“Tick-Borne diseases are rising,” Pasternak said. “We’re seeing more cases annually. Both in the United States each year, but also here in Kentucky.”

These diseases, like lyme and Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause serious health problems, she said. Animals may also be affected by tick-borne diseases. 

“Having the information on what species of tick is here, seeing what kind of pathogens they are carrying gives us an idea of what we need to watch out for,” Pasternak said. 

The information would also help doctors, she said. 

If you are interested in providing a tick to the surveillance program, email arpa246@g.uky.edu.

 

James Scogin can be reached at jscogin@news-graphic.com.

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