Michigan Tech University research tracks diseases in UP ticks

The project’s goal is to provide people with critical educational knowledge about ticks.
Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 8:47 PM EDT
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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - A group of researchers at Michigan Tech University is asking Copper Country residents to bring in their ticks.

In May, a researchers from MTU’s environmental science program started their Tick Talk research project.

The project’s goal is to provide people with critical educational knowledge about ticks.

MTU’S Genomic Sequencing Lab Lead Aimee Marceau said their research shows a majority of ticks in the U.P. have diseases.

“What we are seeing on average is slightly over 10% of ticks are positive for Lyme disease,” said Marceau. “About 1% are positive for Ehrlichiosis, which is a bacterial disease that has similar symptoms to Lyme and about 5% are positive for Anaplasmosis.”

Marceau said the project is part of the Michigan-Sapphire program. During the study, MTU placed two tick-tube bins on campus. One is located at the Great Lakes Research Center and the other at the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.

People grab a tube, collect the ticks they find and bring them back to the bin. Marceau said it’s best to look for ticks after you come in from the outdoors.

“A lot of these diseases that we are seeing actually take time to pass from the tick to the individual so If you can remove those ticks within the first few, eight to 12 hours, you have a lot less chance of catching a disease,” said Marceau.

MTU’S Assistant Forest Research and Environmental Science Professor Kristin Brzeski said during research, one of these tubes came back with something called a Lone Star tick, and she said it can be extremely dangerous.

“They can carry alpha-gal which can create meat allergens, and so that could be something that could be new and emerging in this region,” said Brzeski. “We are now definitely going to be tracking if this was a one-off tick decoction or if this is a potential emerging trend of new tick species.”

Researchers said the study will go until September 30. Then, they will post results on this website.