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Founder and CEO, Dr. Jennifer Platt Talks Ticks: Most Dangerous Vectors?

Recently I attended a lecture by world-renowned entomologist Dr. Dan Sonenshine  called “Ticks: World’s Most Dangerous Vectors”. As I listened to him describe the jaw-dropping adaptations that ticks use to survive, and thrive, I couldn't help but wonder how many people truly understand the dangers they present. 

As a child, I used to worry about leeches -- remember that scene in Rambo? I do! But the most prevalent bloodsuckers are TICKS. I listened with morbid fascination as Dr. Sonenshine described in detail the survival characteristics of these tiny arachnids.  I couldn't help but think about the fact that probably​-- and especially in the south -- most people have NO IDEA about just how dangerous ticks are. I mean, all it takes is one bite. Right timing, wrong place. Period. 

At the Q&A session at the end of the presentation, I couldn't resist the temptation to ask

“Do you think that non-entomologists would agree that ticks are the most dangerous vector across the entire world? I mean, is there anything else even close?”

and he replied “NOTHING comes even close!” And then in my head, I started thinking about the fact that why doesn't the majority of disease vector funding (in the US at least) go to research ticks? 

Now, just to be clear, change is happening. But we must continue to advocate and to spread the word. We need more surveillance to track tick populations and their pathogens across the U.S. We also need to include education in the schools about the dangers of ticks - not to scare students (and parents) but to instill a healthy respect. and vigilance for using prevention practices. Check out our sister nonprofit, Tick-Borne Conditions United to learn about our education and awareness initiatives. 

Thanks for joining us in the war against ticks - together we can really make a difference in reducing the impacts of these "World's Most Dangerous Vectors."

Yours truly ticked off, 

Jennifer Platt, DrPH