Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Crossing Out Ticks
07 May 2015

Crossing Out Ticks

This shiny bug is a deer tick, which normally lives on white-tailed deer and feasts on their blood. Although they're small – under a centimetre long – these arachnids are causing a big problem. Humans are increasingly coming into contact with deer ticks as we venture further into the natural environment in search of resources and adventure. And they're not fussy about where their next meal comes from. As a result, more and more people in Europe, Asia and the US are becoming infected with bacteria transmitted by the ticks as they feed. This causes an unpleasant disease called human granulocytic anaplasmosis, which has flu-like symptoms. In turn, the ticks pick up the bacteria by biting infected people. Scientists are now studying the molecular 'nuts and bolts' that enable these bacteria to interact with the ticks that transmit them, in order to find new ways of breaking the cycle of infection.

Written by Kat Arney

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