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Lähettäjä: Soijuv Lähetetty: 19.9.2007 8:54

Amerikassa on alkanut projekti jossa satelliitin avulla tarkkaillaan borrelioosiin sairastumisen riskiä New Hampshiren alueella. Alueella on esiintynyt yhä enenevässä määrin borrelioosia. Projektin avulla pyritään varoittamaan ihmisiä ajoissa alueista joilla esiintyy riskiä saada tartunta punkeista. ... 50/-1/NEWS
By Lara Bricker
September 16, 2007 6:00 AM

Watch out Lyme-carrying ticks, Big Brother is watching you ? from outer space.

Satellites from space will be monitoring ticks in New Hampshire as part of a three-year, $750,000 project aimed at studying the ecology and risk factors of Lyme disease in the state, which has seen a surge in the number of people afflicted with the disease in recent years.
tick precautions

Tuck pant legs into socks before a trip into woods or fields

* Use insect repellant on socks and pant legs (most effective repellants contain a material called DEET
* Wear light-colored clothing (to help locate ticks easily)
* Stay close to the center of trails (avoid brushing against vegetation)
* Thin out low shrub vegetation in woods
* Keep grass mowed
* Remove brush piles (it serves as animal nesting sites)
* Check thoroughly for ticks after a day outdoors (common sites of attachment include the underarms, the groin, behind the knee, and the nape of the neck)

Source: UNH Cooperative Extension

An interdisciplinary research team from the University of New Hampshire, the state Department of Health and Human Services and the private sector were awarded the $750,00 grant recently by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The researchers will be armed with satellite imagery, field samples, human Lyme disease case data and mathematical models as they work to identify hot spots for ticks. They hope that will allow them to issue early warnings to residents to help prevent exposure to the disease.

The state Department of Health and Human Services has been engaged in an ongoing effort in recent years to get to the bottom of why the state is seeing so many more cases of Lyme disease, state Public Health Veterinarian Jason Stull said.

In 2005, there were 271 cases of Lyme disease statewide, according to Stull, while in 2006 there were 617 cases statewide. Half of the cases last year, or 310, were reported in Rockingham County.

"This is what's called an emerging disease in New Hampshire," Stull said.

Deer tick season in New Hampshire usually starts at the end of September and runs through early November.

Stull, a co-investigator on the project, is also an assistant clinical professor in the UNH Department of Health Management and Policy.

"Information provided by this project will be critical in order to better understand the ecology and human risk of Lyme disease in the state, which in turn will directly assist in its prevention and control," Stull said.

The Department of Health and Human Services is also accepting bids for a smaller project related to tracking the spread of Lyme disease, Stull said. It has $40,000 for a tick-collection study that will involve collection of ixodes scapularis, also called black legged ticks or deer ticks.

They are the species that transmits Lyme disease.

Ticks are collected with a white cloth attached to a dowel that is dragged through areas of vegetation. The deer tick looks similar to a dog tick, but it is smaller and more rounded and lacks white markings. Adult males are very dark brown, almost black, while adult females are dark chestnut brown on their head and legs and orange-red on the rear half of their bodies.

The $40,000 tick survey will also look at whether the ticks are carrying borrelia burgdorferi, a coil-shaped bacteria that causes Lyme disease. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease also can carry several other diseases including babesia, similar to malaria, and anaplasma, which can cause anaplasmosis, a disease that often results in fever and headaches.

There are also differing opinions on why more ticks are carrying Lyme disease. A 2004 study by Alan Eaton, an entomologist with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, showed that 50 to 70 percent of ticks collected in Durham, Lee and Concord were carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Stull, the state veterinarian, said some think the weather is the cause.

"This particular species of ticks is very sensitive to changes in the climate. It likes hot, humid weather," Stull said. "It likes fairly moist weather."

State health officials, while waiting for the tick survey this fall, are urging people to educate themselves about Lyme disease.

"We're starting with really trying to make sure the public is aware of how this disease is transmitted and how you can prevent it," Stull said, adding people should be aware of walking in wooded or vegetative areas where ticks cling to leaves.

"It really comes down to personal protection."

Towns in southern Maine, like York and Kittery, have already implemented tick programs, similar to their mosquito programs, according to Michael Morrison, an entomologist and owner of Municipal Pest Management. He expects that some of the towns in New Hampshire may implement similar measures in 2008.

"Lyme disease is definitely emerging in New Hampshire," he said. "Unfortunately, I think they're going to see a lot more of it."

Stull said the two tick projects have a different approach, but the same eventual goal.

"The NASA study is a long-term study. It's really looking at the ecology of the disease. It's got a much more global approach to infectious disease technology," Stull said, adding the $40,00 tick survey is more centered on the immediate risk to people and better understanding that risk. "And how we can best assist the citizens of New Hampshire and the physicians of New Hampshire in decreasing that risk."

Over time, the team on the NASA project will build the capacity to identify potential hot spots for transmission of Lyme to humans, thus making an early warning system possible. They hope the same method could be used to help study and track diseases such as Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus or even the avian flu.

"That predictive ability is something we'll achieve down the road," said project co-investigator Xiangming Xiao of the UNH Complex Systems Research Center within the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS).

Xiao specializes in the applications of satellite remote sensing and geographical information systems (GIS) technologies to ecosystems science and natural resources.

"Before we can make predictions, we have to build the research and education capacity."

That capacity will be made possibly by using both satellite imagery and data from live tick surveillance and collections. That data will be used to create a mathematical model that will allow researchers to have a diagnostic and predictive ability. The long-term goal of the research team is to establish a center of excellence in the application of geospatial technology ? satellite remote sensing, global positioning systems, and GIS ? for disease ecology and public health at UNH.

UNH research professor David Bartlett, the principle investigator on the Lyme project, said the recent award will galvanize an emerging area of research strength at UNH and across the state.

"Applying space technology to disease ecology is a promising new field, and this project will further develop existing technologies as well as help initiate a training program for students in a variety of fields," Bartlett said. "This innovative collaboration of specialists in remote sensing, geographic information systems, ecology, and public health places New Hampshire to lead future efforts in the state, in the region, and around the globe."

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