North Dakota tracks tick’s with surveillance team

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BISMARCK, N.D. - With the concern over increased numbers of ticks in the area, The North Dakota Tick Surveillance Team is on high alert for risks and infections from tick-borne pathogens.

The creepy, crawlies aren't waiting until Halloween to make their appearance this year. However, the numbers of ticks aren't as high as some would think.

"It actually seems to be a mild decrease in numbers," said program coordinator Kristi Bullinger.

But, those that are here can carry disease, so the North Dakota Department of Health established the Tick Surveillance Team in 2017 to monitor pathogens in animals.

"We were trying to identify what sort of ticks exist in the state of North Dakota," said Bullinger.

This year, thanks to a new variety, the team is taking it one step further.

"We had started trying to get the citizens of North Dakota involved and see what's actually affecting the humans," said Bullinger.

The culprit is the Lonestar tick, a variety that's new to North Dakota. It's causing enough concern for the CDC to fund the expansion program.

"Funding is always an issue with surveillance, so to have the CDC give us funding specifically for Tick Surveillance program is great," said epidemiologist Laura Cronquist.

Which in return helps the state develop its medical care.

"I think our disease prevention efforts have changed a bit as a result of tick surveillance," said Cronquist.

All while making tick discoveries in the state of North Dakota.

This past week the tick surveillance team expanded its research to ticks found on humans. They are asking the public to submit photos to NDticks@nd.gov to help monitor the discovery of Lone Star ticks in the state.