Baseline assessment of Tick-borne disease risk in Indiana
Background: Despite monumental advances in the control of ticks and tick-borne diseases within the past century, ticks continue to flourish and expand geographically, while tick-borne diseases continue to threaten human and animal health globally. Particularly among high risk groups in Indiana (rural dwellers, urban/suburban homeowners living in close proximity of grassy areas and woodlands, park employees and outdoor workers in close proximity of tick habitat), the nature and acceptability of tick control interventions for tick-borne disease risk reduction is poorly understood.
A critical need therefore exists to determine tick and TBD awareness, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, personal protective behaviors, and tick-borne disease risks of Indiana residents. This is necessary for, 1) quantifying their tick-borne disease risk, 2) informing effective tick-borne disease prevention policy for Indiana residents, and 3) developing tailored and targeted interventions, such that at-risk individuals/groups are enabled to, i) make more informed decisions about TBD health risks, ii) avoid tick exposure, iii) decide whether to attempt tick control, and iv) determine how to conduct such controls if necessary. Three specific aims guide this particular project, 1) To determine the psychosocial and behavioral risk factors for tick exposure, 2) To determine the density and distribution of host seeking ticks of public health importance at residential places in South/Central Indiana, and 3) To identify clusters of TBDs in Indiana. This ecological study used various sampling methods for data collection, including cross-sectional online survey,2 snowball sampling with cold-calling,3 field tick collection using drags and Carbon dioxide traps.4 This project provided opportunity to mentor and co-author manuscripts with four graduate level students of the School of Public Health, Indiana University Bloomington