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Tick Surveillance, Pathogen Detection, Eastern South Dakota, ticks


Tick-borne diseases threaten the health of humans, animals, and ecosystems. Throughout the summers of 2019 and 2020, surveillance efforts were aimed at determining the status of the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), the American dog tick (Dermacenter variabilis) and the lone star tick (Amblyoma americanum) in Eastern South Dakota. In 2019, tick surveys took place across fourteen locations within eight counties; in 2020, surveillance efforts included 15 locations across 10 counties in Eastern South Dakota. Tick collection was conducted using a flagging method and each tick was identified in the lab to species, life stage, and sex. A total of 266 ticks of three species was collected over the course of the surveys from mid-May to late-July in 2019. A total of 259 ticks of three species was collected in 2020. The results reveal new established populations of the lone star tick in Union and Clay Counties in 2019, and further expansion into Yankton County in 2020. Combined with other recent findings, this indicates that the range of A. americanum is expanding, possibly due to climate change. Additionally, genomic analyses to detect pathogenic bacteria such as Borrelia and Rickettsia in the three species of tick collected in 2019 are underway. As vectors of disease, ticks pose an increasing risk to public health in the state. Continued tick surveillance efforts in Eastern South Dakota will help track population establishment and inform the public of potential health threats.

First Advisor

Hugh Britten

Second Advisor

Jose Pietri

Research Area