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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

VIDEO: ODU Tick Research Team: Prepare for a Severe Season

By Noell Saunders

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning of a severe season for tick-borne diseases this year.

Lyme disease is the most common and can be life-threatening. Other tick-related diseases include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tick-borne encephalitis and tick paralysis in dogs.

Holly Gaff, an associate professor of biological sciences at Old Dominion University, said a more aggressive version of ticks is moving from the north to the Hampton Roads.

"June is the peak of tick season. Virginia is a really interesting state as far as tick-borne diseases," she said. "We do have the pathogen that causes Lyme disease in our area so there is a risk."

While they can be deadly, these "blood sucking little ninjas" are actually fascinating creatures in the research world, Gaff said.

Gaff leads the ODU tick research team. This year, their focus is protecting children from bites and reducing the tick burden. The Tick Bot, a battery powered robot, that's intended to control ticks in a finite area for about 24 hours by luring them with carbon dioxide, will be used in a study at the NASA Langley Child Development Center this summer.

Gaff and her team are also conducting tick testing at the ODU Vector Ecology Lab. The public is invited to bring tick specimens to the lab that is located in the Mills Godwin Building on West 44th Street. For more information, call 757-683-6903.

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