Infectious Diseases: Tickborne Diseases

This work focuses on the perpetuation of tick-transmitted infections such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, deer tick virus and tularemia. The researchers at the Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health are interested in identifying phenomena occurring at the level of populations, and in particular, processes and factors that regulate how these infectious agents persist from generation to generation (ecological and evolutionary time). Such knowledge is needed for two reasons: one, it may provide general concepts on the evolution of infectious agents; and two such processes or factors may serve as the basis for public health interventions.

A second complementary focus is to measure the public health burden and epidemiology of these environmental infections. The proposed work may provide new approaches to investigating outbreaks of tularemia, plague, and spotted fever that may develop due to unnatural releases in suburban sites and, ultimately, provide needed information on the cellular and molecular basis for limits to natural transmission of these zoonotic pathogens. Work on Babesia microti is focused on the cause of human babesiosis in eastern North America.