Project Update

Happy summer, everyone!

School is out here at Kansas State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, but NETS is ramping up!

Since October 2018, we have received almost 900 ticks from 20 states across the country. With each tick, we ask for data about the horse including weight, age, time spent in pasture, and tick location. Our team is analyzing this data, combined with geographic location and tick species, to discover more about the relationship between horses and ticks.

Many of the submissions received involve multiple ticks on one horse (sometimes dozens to hundreds!), so we recommend checking your horse’s entire body regularly for infestations. The current record holder was a single horse that had over 320 ticks!

This summer we have also begun molecular analysis of ticks via PCR to search for pathogens. In particular, a student in the lab will be determining the prevalence of Borellia burgdorferi, the causative agent for Lyme disease, in Ixodes ticks. Lyme disease is mostly seen in the northeastern United States, but with the high amount of equine transfer across state lines for shows, sales, and other events, the ticks carrying these bacteria may spread to new regions. The presence of certain tick species in particular areas, found in data from the NETS project, can alert veterinarians and horse owners to disease threats in their area.

This project could not be done without all of the clinics and owners who have taken the time to send in the ticks they find. We thank you all for making this possible! Please continue to think of us every time you find ticks on your horses, so we can provide you with the most accurate and complete information possible about these pests and the diseases they carry.