As human activity and environmental change increase the risk of tick exposure to Hoosiers, IU assistant professor Oghenekaro Omodior leads an effort to determine the important exposures at managed ecosystems, such as private residential areas and “within-city limits” outdoor recreational parks and green spaces. These locations present an important source of contact between humans and host-seeking ticks and are associated with a heightened risk of infected tick exposure and subsequent tick-borne diseases (TBD).
The first wave of data collection took place in 2018 in parts of southwest central Indiana. In the project’s second year, the research team will extend the geographic range of data collection to other parts of Indiana.
Two specific aims guide the current project. The first aim seeks to identify the psychosocial and ecological variables, which predict tick density, tick infection rate, and the likelihood of acquiring TBD in managed ecosystems of Indiana. For the second aim, the team will determine the metagenome of microbes of public health importance in ticks obtained from managed ecosystems. The researchers expect study outcomes will significantly improve tick exposure control, TBD prevention, and treatment efforts.