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Lyme disease, caused by the genospecies complex Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, is the most common tick-borne infection in the Northern Hemisphere and is the most common arthropod-borne disease in the United States. The disease is particularly endemic in Southeast Minnesota and West Central Wisconsin. Lyme disease can have a substantial impact on quality of life as disseminated forms of the disease can affect the heart, joints, and nervous system. It is therefore important for health care professionals to diagnose and treat patients with Lyme disease in a timely fashion. To do so, these professionals need to be informed about disease prevalence in endemic areas. Currently the CDC establishes the prevalence of the Lyme disease using clinically diagnosed cases. However, doing so may not accurately indicate the true prevalence of the disease in Ixodes scapularis, the main vector for Lyme disease in endemic regions of the United States. To determine the prevalence of B. burgdorferi carried by I. scapularis, a real-time PCR protocol was introduced and used to assay ticks collected in 2011. 351 I. scapularis ticks were collected from the areas of Southeast Minnesota and West Central Wisconsin. Out of these, 119 ticks have been assayed using the real-time PCR protocol. It was found that 10.5% of the assayed ticks were carrying B. burgdorferi. This data may indicate the number of ticks carrying the disease has been decreasing each year since 2005.

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Final Report Form, Research Report, Poster

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First Advisor

Kimberly Bates



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