Research in Ottawa’s Greenbelt by Dr. Roman Kryuchkov (with Dr. Benoit Talbot)

September 14, 2018

Our lab is conducting research on tick populations in various sites in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, including the blacklegged tick which is the vector of Lyme disease and other pathogens. Therefore, annually during warm seasons members of our lab go to the field for sampling. Benoit and I spend a lot of time from May till October in Ottawa and Outaouais areas for active tick surveillance. For up to four days per week you can find us walking on recreational trails through the parks, forests, wetlands, streams, and conduct drag sampling to collect ticks,. This is a unique opportunity to observe the local biodiversity: animals, birds in their natural environment, to see the harmony and marvels of nature and to meet people who are very interested in our work.

It is not a surprise that trail users approach to us and ask about our work when we look like strangers dressed in biohazard suits, when they are in shorts and t-shirts. But, some of them get startled…

I am glad that most people who we meet are well acquainted with the issue of ticks from the media about ticks in our area, about diseases transmitted by them, about protection and safety measures against tick bites. However, some of them are surprised and not familiar with these infections. At this point in time, our research is helping to inform people about the current status of tick population and Lyme Disease establishment in Ottawa specifically, and Ontario generally.

In our lab we have different ideas/projects to protect people against tick bites. One of them is a pilot study that is evaluating the impact of woodchip barriers along trail margins on the density of blacklegged ticks. We examine the effectiveness of woodchip barriers along the sides of trails in reducing the number of ticks that people are potentially exposed to. We measure whether there is any difference between trails with woodchips and trails without. We hope woodchips can help to develop sustainable tick management interventions to reduce human-tick encounter and mitigate Lyme disease risk for trail users.

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INSIGHT Lab, University of Ottawa | Ottawa, Ontario, Canada