Assessing Recognition of the Vector of Lyme Disease Using Resin-Embedded Specimens in a Lyme Endemic Area

Gebbiena M. Bron, Hannah Fenelon, Susan M. Paskewitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Lyme disease (LD) is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. To assess whether a tick bite puts someone at risk for LD, adequate tick identification skills are needed. We surveyed residents of a high LD-incidence state, Wisconsin, on their ability to distinguish ticks from insects and to identify the specimens that could transmit the LD causative agent. Surveys were conducted using resin blocks with four insects and four tick specimens embedded. About half of the participants (64 of 130) recognized all of the ticks, and 60% of those individuals chose only ticks and no insects. Younger participants (18- to 44-yr old) were more likely to identify ticks correctly compared with those 45 yr and older. Participants who agreed strongly with the statement ‘I know a lot about ticks` were also likelier to correctly identify ticks. When asked to identify which specimens could transmit LD, less than 25% of participants chose both the Ixodes scapularis Say adult female and nymph and about half of those (15% of participants) picked only those two and no other specimens. Although the relatively small convenience sample was biased toward younger participants who consider themselves ‘outdoorsy’, results showed that further assessments of tick recognition skills are needed to understand what determines whether people can recognize medically important ticks and to evaluate the potential benefits of enhanced education. In addition to the value of the resin blocks as research tools, the blocks may be useful as training tools to improve tick check efficacy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Entomology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

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