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Tick Season is Here and UMass Lab is Tracking the Pests


AMHERST, Mass (WGGB) – As the snow goes away, ticks begin to come out. And just the same as every year around this time, the risk for lyme disease is high.

Just this week Justin Roberts, of Springfield, was out for a run and noticed a tiny pest that wanted to tag along.

“I looked down at my shorts and saw that I had a tick on me; it’s a bit of a scary incidence to have in the springtime,” said Roberts.

Most commonly found in wooded areas, the best way to know you are dealing with a tick is to count the legs.

While insects have 6 legs, ticks have 8 and these creatures are dangerous. With no federal funding for research, UMass Amherst has established a publicly funded laboratory to test ticks that are sent in to them.

The scientists are receiving about 70 ticks a week from all around the country. When they arrive, they are first identified. Then the researchers do DNA extractions to test them for diseases.

“About 50% of adult ticks are infected with lyme disease,” says Dr. Stephen Rich.

Other bacteria ticks can carry could be deadly, like the Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis diseases also found in New England ticks.  The lab has the capabilities to test for 10 different types of diseases.

The best word of advice, check small children, pets, and yourself for ticks after spending time outdoors, and Dr. Rich adds, “They have to be on you for quite a while before they transmit disease, so if you get them off early you are protecting yourself.”

To submit a tick in your area, you can visit: www.umass.edu/lmz or www.umass.edu/ticks

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