Researchers at Indiana University have located an adult female Gulf Coast tick in Indiana. These ticks, which sometimes carry diseases like Tidewater fever, are most commonly found in the states that border the Gulf of Mexico.
The tick was located in Posey County near the Wabash River and was collected by researchers from Project Vector Shield from the Environmental Resilience Institute at IU. This type of tick was also seen in Gibson County in 2016 and has recently established itself in Tennessee and Maryland.
"Though one specimen does not provide strong proof that the Gulf Coast tick is established in Indiana, it does warrant more investigation and serves as another layer of evidence that disease-carrying agents are moving into Indiana from the South, possibly due to climate change," IU Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology and Project Vector Shield leader Keith Clay told IU News.
Project Vector Shield collects ticks and mosquitos from around Indiana and studies them in the hopes of detecting new diseases in the state before they begin to infect humans. The project has 20 collection sites across the state, many of them in state parks and wildlife areas near Indiana’s borders.
Although more research is required to say exactly why these ticks are becoming more common so far from the Gulf, climate change, changing weather and temperature patterns and human activities like travel could all be contributing factors.
More information on Project Vector Shield is available here.