Ticks: Not Man’s Best Friend

Author: Samantha Luby
Major: Biology
Approved: Spring 2020
Status: In progress

Ticks are vectors that can transmit pathogens to humans and other animals, such as dogs. Commonly found in wooded and grassy areas, ticks are in locations that are frequented by people and their dogs. In order to better understand the distribution and abundance of these vectors, ticks will be collected in the Roanoke area, looking specifically at locations where pet owners are likely to take their dogs. This data will establish a general distribution of ticks in the area. These ticks will also be tested to see if they carry the causative agent of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi. With this information, an interactive online map will be created, highlighting areas that are densely populated with ticks as well as the type of ticks found there and if they tested positive for Borrelia burgdorferi. This map can be utilized by dog owners to locate areas with lower risks of acquiring Lyme disease.

To further investigate Lyme disease, I would like to look into the Lyme vaccine that is offered by many veterinary clinics. After talking to some veterinarians in the Roanoke area, I learned that often times pet owners will forego the vaccine, despite its benefits. The goal is to incorporate information about the Lyme vaccine and its benefits into this interactive map. As a whole, this map will be used to raise awareness of ticks and the diseases they are vectors for as well as promote the vaccine.