Lyndon State College Study of Lyme Disease Vectors

In the fall of 2015 Lyndon State College student Connor Hunt spent many weekends live-trapping mice on Hogback as part of a state-wide study of mice, ticks, and Lyme disease.  He ultimately trapped 31 small mammals, but didn't find a single tick!  In the spring of 2016, Dr. Alan Giese, Connor's advisor for the study, walked 1.4 miles of Hogback trails with a "drag cloth" (a method for collecting ticks) and found only one tick.  To read the entire report, click the link.

2015 - Project Planning

When Lyndon State College student Connor Hunt joined the college’s Natural Sciences research team that is investigating Lyme Disease vectors, he knew just the spot to use in studying whether there is a correlation between elevation and the presence of Lyme Disease.  Hogback!  Connor, who grew up in Wilmington, knew that Mount Olga in the Hogback Mountain Conservation Area is one of the most easily accessible high spots on the spine of the Green Mountains in southern Vermont.

 

You might notice some signs high on Tower Trail this year (and in coming years) explaining the temporary markings and pieces of equipment that will be used in the study.  Connor will be setting out live-catch traps to capture not ticks, and not deer, but mice.  Most people know that Lyme Disease is carried to humans by deer ticks.  Many people aren’t aware, though, that white-footed mice are a key vector in the transmission of Lyme Disease. 

 

The traps will be baited at dusk with an oatmeal-based lure, and then picked up again at dawn.  Any mice that are caught will be inspected for ticks, and a tiny tissue sample will be taken.  Then the mice will be released at the same spot where they were captured.  The tissue sample will be tested for Lyme Disease.  Interestingly, although Lyme Disease can be present in mice, it doesn’t make them sick. 

 

Data from Hogback will be added to data from other sites throughout the state.  Researchers will then be able to look for correlations in the data.  Where are the hot spots?  What are their common factors?  Are mice more likely to be infected in some types of habitats than others?  Does Lyme presence vary with elevation?  And will any of these correlations change over time?  Stay tuned.  We’ll be interested in reading about the findings of this research team.

Connor Hunt, who grew up in Wilmington and is now a student at Lyndon State College, will be live-trapping mice on Hogback as part of a 10-year study of Lyme disease vectors.

For an interesting article about mice and Lyme disease, check out this site: 

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