Wednesday, June 27, 2018

"Tick Discovery Highlights How Few Answers We Have about These Pests in the U.S."

Nightmare fuel:
Last August Tadhgh Rainey, division manager at the Hunterdon County Division of Public Health Services in Flemington, N.J., received an odd phone call. An assistant in a nearby building excitedly explained to him that a woman had walked into their office covered in tiny ticks—far more than they had ever seen on one person. “She’s really scared—and now we’re kind of scared, and her pants are in our freezer,” the assistant said.

The woman, a local farmer, had been shearing her sheep when she realized she was covered in black, crawling spots and booked it to the health department. She had a change of clothes in her car and gave the health office staff her bespeckled pants; they threw them in the lab freezer to kill the ticks. Later that day Rainey headed over to his colleague’s building, where the staff took the pants back out of the freezer and shook the clinging ticks out into a pan. They saved about a thousand—although the ticks were dead, Rainey wanted to keep them for further testing. “I took a look at them, just thinking, ‘Well, that's an awful lot of ticks,’” Rainey recalls. “It was almost exhilarating—to the point where you wanna blow up the building, though.”


Rainey reached out to colleagues but they also had no idea what type of ticks they were.