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USU Research Team Publishes Research On Lyme Disease
Ticks typically live in wooded and grassy areas.

The report, published in the ‘Journal of Medical Entomology’ was the result of an exhaustive three year field test in which the research team covered more than 90 miles on foot, collecting 350 ticks. 119 of these were the species of ticks that are able to host the bacteria for Lyme disease. Of these 119, none of them tested positive for Lyme disease. Epidemiologist and assistant professor in USU’s Department of Biology, Scott Bernhardt said that although they didn’t find Lyme disease in their tick population, it doesn’t mean Utah is immune to it.

“We do have ticks that can transmit it, but none of our ticks were positive. That’s not to say that Lyme disease doesn’t exist, but if it does the risk is probably quite low, as well as you would need to recreate or be in a place, a localized location where those ticks might exist as well as the potential for those ticks to be positive.”

Symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash on the skin that resembles a bull’s eye, overwhelming fatigue, headaches, pain or stiffness in joints, and fever. Lyme disease is the most prominent vector-borne disease in the United States. Haley Hilton, a dancer and student at Brigham Young University recalls her early symptoms.

“I started dancing with Odyssey Dance Theater and I did BYU and it was so stressful that my body just crashed, and from there, I gained fifteen pounds in three days, I couldn’t get out of bed, I had unbearable migraines, I couldn’t remember anything," she said. "So from there I spent a year and a half just insanely sick going from doctor to doctor, I pretty much just spent three years crazy sick.”

According to the team’s research findings, Utah ticks aren’t likely to carry the disease, but people should still take the necessary precautions, such as wearing bug repellent, and checking your skin after being outdoors, to prevent getting the disease.