The Gettysburg College Cross-Disciplinary Sciences Seminar Series
Wednesday, November 14, 12:00 p.m.
Mara Auditorium, Masters Hall, Room 110
George Han, M.D., M.P.H.
Dengue Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Lyme Disease on the Battlefield: Exposure to Borrelia burgdorferi and Other Tick-Borne Pathogens in Gettysburg National Military Park
During the past decade, Lyme disease has increased in southcentral Pennsylvania, which includes Gettysburg National Military Park (NMP). Limited information is available about tick populations or pathogens in this area, and no data regarding frequency of tick bites or prevention measures among Gettysburg NMP employees are available. To address these gaps, a two-part study was conducted in 2009, consisting of a field collection of ticks and an survey of Gettysburg NMP employees. We found that peak nymph populations were observed during May–July. Of 115 Ixodes scapularis ticks tested for pathogens by PCR, 21% were infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, including 18% of 74 nymphs and 27% of 41 adults. The survey revealed that park employees who work outdoors frequently found ticks on their skin and clothing. However, use of personal preventive measures was inconsistent, and 6% of respondents reported contracting Lyme disease while employed at Gettysburg NMP. These findings indicate a need to improve surveillance for tick bites among employees and enhance prevention programs for park staff and visitors.
Dr. Han is a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dengue Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in San Juan, Puerto Rico and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Previously, he was a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer assigned to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, where he conducted this study. He recently completed a residency in preventive medicine at the CDC and holds the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service.
This seminar program is supported by a grant to Gettysburg College from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education program.