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Biology researchers provide update on deer tick research, bacteria that causes Lyme disease

Fall is here, which means hunters and those taking advantage of cooler temperatures will be hitting the trails and wooded areas before winter arrives. One thing they'll need to watch out for is the ever-present deer tick, which can carry the Borrelia burgdorferi (the causative bacterial agent and insect vector of Lyme disease).

In ongoing research from 2013 examining the prevalence of deer ticks that carry Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, Dr. Lloyd Turtinen, professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and microbiology major Emily Holman, a senior from Rochester, Minnesota, once again headed into the lab to perform DNA extraction to determine if a tick is a carrier. They studied 100 adult female ticks collected from late April 2014 to the middle of May 2014 from 27 different sites in six counties.

The overall prevalence for ticks carrying the Lyme disease bacteria was 34 percent, almost identical to the previous three-year study. In Eau Claire County alone, the prevalence of positive ticks was just over 38 percent, and in Dunn County the prevalence was 22 percent.

To see Turtinen's 2013 research results and learn more about the DNA extraction process, view last year's news release.

For more information about the ongoing research project on deer ticks and the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, contact Dr. Lloyd Turtinen at or 715-836-3506.