Pitt State wildlife research centers around Four State ticks

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As plenty of people in the Four States spend time outdoors, it’s important to know what’s out there. An investigation by Pittsburg State University will show if the species of ticks in Southeast Kansas are anything to worry about and how we can plan ahead.

“I remember being bit by some ticks. And a couple months later, I developed a meat allergy,” explained Leah Cuthill with the PSU Biology Department.

Leah Cuthill got something most of us have never heard of.

“Alpha-gal syndrome. It prevents me from eating any red meats such as steak.” Cuthill continued. ” So it did kind of pique my interest — if there is any correlation with the tick bite and the red meat allergy.”

Now, she’s part of an effort to help keep other patients safe.

Over the past four summers, biology students and faculty have been investigating different wildlife areas looking for where ticks are more common.

“We use a method called ‘flag and drag,’ explained instructor Anu Ghosh. “The two objectives for our study is first, to see the ecological distribution species of ticks in this area. The second objective is to see that what these ticks are carrying.”

They are looking to see if these ticks carry disease — specifically Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis.

“It’s important to be aware of the disease ticks can spread,” Cuthill added. “If you are wearing long pants or lots of covering, any sort of bug spray — it’s just being aware after you’ve been to areas where ticks are known to infest and just be safe. There’s a risk of disease spread.”

This study works in collaboration with other universities in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

The next phase of Tuesday’s study will take all of the ticks collected and analyze them.

They hope to eventually publish this information as a way to show which species thrive in Southeast Kansas.

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