Lyme Disease-Fighting Project In Northeast
To Enlist Deer
By Jan Suszkiw
August 5, 1997
Deer will bring ticks to their doom in a new pilot project aimed at reducing
the threat of Lyme disease. The five-year USDA Northeast Regional Tick Control
Project begins this fall at test sites in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New
York, and New Jersey. A fifth site opens in Maryland in 1998.
The project aims to prevent deer from carrying ticks into areas that people
use, like parks and backyards. The strategy: Deer that eat corn at a special
feeding station will be treated with a safe tick-killing chemical. Scientists
with USDAs Agricultural Research
Service developed, patented and field tested the feeding station, according
to an ARS report detailing the project.
The northeast accounts for 90 percent of the 100,000-plus cases of Lyme
disease reported nationwide since 1982, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
ARS scientists, collaborating universities and others will participate in
the project. It is being led by ARS scientists John George, Mat Pound and Allen
Miller and Lyme disease expert Durland Fish of
Yale School of Medicine, New
The project will use about 125 corn-filled feeding stations equipped with
rollers. The rollers will apply amitraz to the head, neck and ears of each
white-tailed deer that eats corn kernels from a bin. Amitraz doesnt harm
The goal is to reduce by 90 percent the nymphs--an immature stage--of
Ixodes scapularis ticks at each 1,280-acre central test site.
Pinhead-size nymphs are more likely than adult ticks to infect people with
Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
Pound, Miller and technician Craig LeMeilleur developed the deer feeding
stations, called 4-posters. Each has four upright paint rollers
coated with amitraz. In field trials in Texas, the approach curbed up to 97
percent of Texas lone star ticks. These ticks cannot not transmit Lyme disease,
but may harbor other harmful organisms.
For news media, ARS News Service can provide by fax or e-mail a 1500-word
report on the project. Request from Jan Suszkiw,
ARS Information Staff, phone (301)
Scientific contact: John George, Matt Pound, Allen Miller, ARS
Livestock Insects Research Laboratory, Kerrville, Tex., phone (830)
279-0339, fax 792- 0337, firstname.lastname@example.org,