Study Shows ARS Device is Highly Effective at
Controlling Ticks that Spread Lyme Disease
By Sandy Miller
August 11, 2009
A device called the
"4-poster" Deer Treatment Bait Station, developed and patented by
scientists with the Agricultural Research
Service (ARS), was highly effective at reducing the number of ticks
infected with the Lyme disease bacterium in a six-year U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) study in
five Northeastern statesMaryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and
Rhode Islandwhere the disease is endemic.
In the $2.1 million USDA Northeast Areawide Tick Control Project,
investigators noted a 71 percent overall reduction in the number of ticks
infected with the Lyme disease bacterium during summer months when most people
get the disease. If the 4-poster is used in areas where the disease is endemic,
this should translate to a corresponding 71 percent decrease in Lyme disease
cases, according to Durland Fish, a professor of epidemiology at
Yale School of Public Health and
principal investigator for the project. The effectiveness of the 4-poster
ranged from 60 to 82 percent among the seven individual 2-square-mile study
The device is a bin that contains corn, with insecticide-laden paint rollers
mounted at the bin's corners. When a deer-the primary carrier of the
blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, which carries the Lyme disease
bacteriuminserts its muzzle into the bin to feed, it must rub its head,
neck and ears against the insecticide-treated rollers. When the deer
subsequently grooms itself, the insecticide is spread enough to protect the
animal's entire body.
Developed by ARS scientists at the agency's
U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory in Kerrville, Texas, the
4-poster's efficacy could be boosted to more than 90 percent by using newer,
more effective insecticides that were not available at the start of the USDA
study, according to
Mathews Pound, an entomologist at the Kerrville laboratory and a
co-investigator on the study.
The results of the study have been published in a series of 11 papers in the
August 2009 issue of the medical journal Vector-borne and
Zoonotic Diseases. The articles are available
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of USDA.