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University of Wisconsin researchers take on ticks

  • Associated Press
  • May 24, 2014 - 1:45 PM

MADISON, Wis. — A team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin is taking on deer ticks — with hopes of giving people another tool to protect themselves from the bugs that can transmit Lyme disease.

WISC-TV reported (http://bit.ly/1jFcise ) researchers are laying out 25 sections of PVC pipe in the university's Arboretum, then filling each pipe with cotton balls containing an insecticide that kills ticks. Mice then use the cotton balls to build nests. When a tick latches onto a mouse and makes contact with the cotton ball, it dies.

"We see in some of our studies that the mice are way more effective at collecting the ticks than we are," Susan Paskewitz, a professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, said. She added that this allows researchers to target insecticide, instead of spraying it into the environment.

The researchers will monitor the areas around the tubes to see if the deer tick population is affected. The goal is to find another tool for homeowners to guard against ticks.

"I'm kind of hoping that we begin to see things even this season, but it could be next year or the year after before we really get an impact," Paskewitz said.

Jordan Mandli, a graduate student working on the project, researchers hope to develop a treatment that homeowners can use on their properties.

The insecticide used, Permethrin, is deadly to ticks, but not humans or mice.

Sixty-seven confirmed cases of Lyme disease have been diagnosed in Wisconsin this year.

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