NEVBD 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting - Poster Session

Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases

Welcome to the poster session for the NEVBD 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting! The live poster session was held on Tuesday January 12, 2021. 


You can browse posters developed by NEVBD trainees, research affiliates, and community partners on applied research addressing tick and mosquito-borne disease issues in the Northeast region that were presented during our 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting. 


More info: https://www.neregionalvectorcenter.com/2021-nevbd-annual-meeting

Tick-borne virus surveillance in New York State

Alan P. Dupuis II, Melissa A. Prusinski, P. Bryon Backenson, ALexander Ciota, and Laura D. Kramer

Abstract
The re-emergence of Powassan virus (POWV) and the emergence of Heartland (HRTV) and Bourbon (BRBV) viruses have added to the burden of human disease caused by zoonotic pathogens. In response, New York State has expanded its tick-borne disease surveillance efforts by assessing virus prevalence in questing ticks and utilizing white-tailed deer (WTD) as an effective sentinel for virus presence across the state. Since 2009, greater than 74,000 questing ticks, 1,950 deer bloods and 5,700 ticks collected from WTD have been tested. POWV was detected in 175 of 7100 pools of questing Ixodes scapularis. Isolation of POWV in 3 pools of flat larvae established vertical transmission. HRTV was detected in 5 of 1259 pools of Amblyomma americanum collected on Long Island. BRBV was not detected in any tick pools tested. To date, all Haemaphysalis longicornis tick pools (N=156) have tested negative for POWV, HRTV, and BRBV. Serologic results of WTD indicated POWV presence throughout NYS with regional variability. POWV antibody rates were highest in the lower Hudson Valley (95%), upper Hudson Valley (83%) and on Long Island (79%). An additional 63 POWV isolates were obtained from ticks collected on 50 WTD. Seroprevalence of HRTV (9.7%) and BRBV (66.6%) was assessed for deer harvested from Long Island. Results of this study emphasize a need for further investigation; to determine risk of human exposure through serosurveys and clinical testing; to demarcate the geographic range of HRTV, BRBV, and POWV transmission across the population expansion of I. scapularis and A. americanum; and to continue monitoring Haemaphysalis longicornis ticks for human pathogens.
Presented by
Alan Dupuis <alan.dupuis@health.ny.gov>
Institution
Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health
Keywords

SEASONAL DYNAMIC OF TICK SPECIES IN THE ECOTONE IN CENTRAL NEW JERSEY

Julia González, Dina M. Fonseca, Álvaro Toledo

Abstract
The ecotone is a transitional area between two different environments that reflects a mixture of habitats. People and pets often interact with these areas while doing outdoor activities, increasing the risk of tick-bites. In this study, we studied the seasonal dynamics of ticks in the ecotone in an area in NJ where the anthropophilic species, Ixodes scapularis, Amblyomma americanum and Dermacentor varibilis coexist with Haemaphysalis longicornis, an invasive tick species that was recently identified in NJ. We selected 6 different sites in public park areas and Rutgers campus; each site included 3 transects of 20 meters. Surveillance was conducted weekly from March to December 2020 by sweeping the ecotone with a white crib flannel (50 x 100 cm). Ticks were collected and identified in the laboratory using appropriate taxonomical keys. The results showed that H. longicornis was the most abundant tick species (84%) in the ecotone throughout the season, followed by A. americanum (9%), I. scapularis (7%) and D. variabilis, (<1%). This finding suggests that H. longicornis can become a frequent pet and human biter and it should be closely monitored due its vector role in the transmission of animal and human diseases.
Presented by
Julia Gonzalez
Institution
Rutgers University
Keywords

Mosquito diversity, blood feeding patterns, and arboviral risks at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

Cierra Briggs¹, Rayan Osman², Brent Newman², Margarita Woc Colburn³, Heather Schwartz³, Laura C. Harrington¹, Abelardo C. Moncayo²

Abstract
Zoological parks are unique locations to study arboviral disease transmission due to the abundance of exotic and native animal hosts, human hosts, and favorable environmental conditions. We conducted a study at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere to better understand arboviral disease transmission dynamics within a zoo setting and compared arbovirus infection data with results from 2017. We sampled mosquitoes over four months in 2020 from both within and outside of the zoo, using four different mosquito trap types and 12 different sampling locations. Mosquitoes were identified to species. Culex mosquitoes were analyzed for arboviruses, and engorged mosquitoes were preserved for host feeding analysis to determine zoonotic feeding risk. We captured over 9,000 mosquitoes representing a 24 different species, including a new record for Tennessee (Cx. nigripalpus). Risk for arbovirus transmission was documented with MIRs for WNV, SLEV and FLAV at 0.79, 0, and 4.14, respectively. Our results demonstrate the utility of zoological parks as sentinels for emerging pathogens, human and wildlife risk, One Health, and vector diversity.
Presented by
Cierra Briggs <clb374@cornell.edu>
Institution
¹Department of Entomology at Cornell University, ²Tennessee Department of Health, ³Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
Keywords
Mosquito Surveillance, One Health

Modeling the distribution of the invasive Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) in NJ uncovers the importance of soil type and hydrological characteristics

Ilia Rochlin, Greg Williams, Tadhgh Rainey, Jim Occi, Scott Crans, Dina M. Fonseca

Abstract
The first established population of Asian Longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis abbreviated ALT) in North America was detected in the Hunterdon County, NJ in 2017. ALT has been reported from 15 states suggesting prolonged invasion. ALT has been present in New Jersey for at least a decade allowing occupancy in suitable environment. Given this relatively long-term presence, we hypothesized that ALT fine-scale distribution is largely determined by the ecological patterns of communities and physiogeographic conditions. Whereas climate offers only a broad characterization of species range, environmental factors can provide insights to site-level habitat suitability. We noted an association of this tick species and Piedmont ecological region in New Jersey. Ecological regions are characterized by geology and topography, natural communities, soils, and hydrologic conditions. The aim of this study was to identify the environmental parameters and conditions that define known ALT habitat in New Jersey on a local scale appropriate for guiding surveillance and management decisions. We found the strongest association between ALT presence and the ability of soil to retain water followed by types of soils, topographic features, and Piedmont ecoregion resulting in a state-wide ALT suitability map at 90x90 m resolution.
Presented by
Ilia Rochlin <ilia.rochlin@gmail.com>
Institution
Center for Vector Biology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, Hunterdon County Division of Health, Flemington, NJ, Public Health Environmental and Agricultural Laboratory, NJDOH, Ewing, NJ, NJDEP Office of Mosquito Control Coordination, Trenton, NJ
Keywords
Asian Longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, modeling, soil, Piedmont

Evaluation of Local Tick Populations and Optimization of Tick Surveillance Protocols for Mashomack Nature Preserve on Shelter Island, NY

Kate Thornburg, Alexander Novarro, Beau Payne, Laura Harrington

Abstract
Shelter Island, NY has established populations of ticks that can impact human health. Strategies like four-poster devices were deployed to combat tick-borne diseases. Our goal was to refine the current tick collecting method and develop a surveillance program that requires minimal resources year-to-year. We determined density of nymphs across residential locations on the island and Mashomack nature preserve. Dragging was performed at seven locations over three months in 2020. Two of those locations had a significantly different number of Amblyomma americanum, and two had a significantly different number of Ixodes scapularis. The visitor center on Mashomack Preserve had the highest DON. This has implications on education and outreach for the preserve. Pathogen testing is currently ongoing and may provide insight into tick-borne disease risk.
Presented by
Kate Thornburg
Institution
Cornell University, Department of Entomology
Keywords
Vectors, Entomology, Ticks, Tickborne Disease

Dirofilia immitis in mosquitoes collected from two counties in the Connecticut Statewide Monitoring Program

Kelly A. Hagadorn, Andrea Gloria-Soria

Abstract
Dirofilaria sp. are filarial nematodes that primarily affect dogs, causing heartworm disease (Dirofilaria immitis and Dirofilaria repens), and sometimes humans as accidental hosts. In the US, surveillance of Dirofilaria is primarily through veterinary records of dog heartworm and has recently thought to be increasing. This increase may be due to increased abundance of the vector Aedes albopictus. To better understand Dirofilaria sp. vector epidemiology, field collection and testing of mosquitoes for Dirofilaria sp. is essential. Using mosquitoes collected in two counties through the Connecticut Statewide Monitoring Program in 2020, we surveyed for Dirofilaria parasites among 17 mosquito species. Of the 330 mosquito pools tested, 21 pools tested positive for Dirofilaria sp. (6.4%). Aedes albopictus was most abundant of the eight mosquito species where Dirofilaria sp. was detected (2.7%). This suggests that Aedes albopictus maybe important in the increase of Dirofilaria parasites and therefore related diseases such as heartworm.
Presented by
Kelly Hagadorn
Institution
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
Keywords

The Role of Mesomammals as Tick Hosts in New York City

Laura Plimpton, Maria A. Diuk-Wasser, Danielle M. Tufts

Abstract
Interpreting how temporal and spatial variations in resource availably influence the behavior and movement of urban animals using geospatial data remains a difficult task. Traditional habitat selection analyses often neglect to consider the behavioral state of the animal (e.g., foraging vs. resting) resulting in incorrect inferences regarding an animal’s motivation. In this pilot study, we provide an example of how this limitation could be addressed by fitting Hidden Markov models (HMMs) to GPS data collected at frequent intervals nightly from four raccoons living within city parks on Staten Island, NYC with the goal of characterizing the behavioral states of the raccoons and identifying drivers of movement. Our preliminary analyses suggest that urban raccoons transition between three behavioral states- stationary, foraging, and transit. In addition, transitions between the behavioral states formed two temporal patterns: a nightly cycle and a weekly cycle, which appeared closely tied to the proportion of residential area and availability of anthropogenic resources in the surrounding areas on certain nights of the week (e.g., trash night). Thus, the use of HMMs may provide important insights into how, when, and where urban wildlife may encounter each other, other species, and/or humans and consequently, the transmission dynamics of certain urban-associated zoonotic pathogens.
Presented by
Laura Plimpton and Danielle M. Tufts
Institution
Columbia University, Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology Department
Keywords
raccoons, wildlife movement, GPS, urban ecology, Haemaphysalis longicornis

Ecological Investigation of Powassan Virus in Maine

Lindsay Baxter, Laura Harrington, Robert Smith, Charles Lubelczyk, Susan Elias, Rebecca Robich

Abstract
Powassan Virus lineage 2 (Deer Tick Virus) is endemic throughout much of the Northeast and Midwestern United States. Maine’s Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve contains sections of native forests and invasive shrubs including Japanese barberry and Eurasian honeysuckle. Collections of Ixodes scapularis from invasive shrub areas at WNERR have consistently revealed a focality of Deer Tick Virus with up to 5% of questing ticks positive for the virus while other areas within the reserve are consistently negative. To understand virus persistence at this location, we expanded prior transects into 7x7 sampling grids representing highly invasive forest, invasive forest, and native forest. We measured microclimate, tick abundance, and infection rate in all three locations across the invasive shrub gradients. Rodent host communities were recorded in both invasive forest locations. Results show an abnormally low abundance of questing nymphal ticks and a rebound in adult populations in the fall. DTV is higher in highly invasive forests with tall shrub layer and a higher population of white-footed mice. Preliminary analysis shows roughly 5% positivity in questing adult I. scapularis ticks.
Presented by
Lindsay Baxter
Institution
Cornell University
Keywords
Powassan Virus, Deer Tick Virus, Disease Ecology, Tick-borne Disease

The growth and pathogenesis of La Crosse Virus lineage III strains, and vector competence in potential vector mosquitoes.

Lindsey Faw, Philip Armstrong, Alex Ciota, Gillian Eastwood

Abstract
Mosquito-borne La Crosse virus (LACV) is the causative agent of La Crosse encephalitis, which is the leading cause of pediatric encephalitis in the U.S. There are up to 120 neuro-invasive clinical cases each year generally focalized in the Appalachian region or the Midwest. Although LACV seems well established in these areas, since 2005, strains representing a third lineage have been isolated from mosquitoes in the Northeast. Although there appears to be a persistent entomological risk of Lineage III LACV in the Northeast, there are no documented human cases to date, and my Ph.D. investigations aim to determine more about this potential public health risk. Hypotheses about why we have not yet seen LACV clinical cases when we are finding an entomological risk in mosquitoes include: under-diagnosis or lack of detection of infected people, reduced virulence of lineage III, a low prevalence of infection, or reduced vector competence in the mosquitoes e.g. the virus may be maintained vertically only. To address some of these questions, my research will focus on the vector competence (horizontal and vertical transmission) of potential vector mosquitoes, Aedes albopictus, Aedes triseriatus, and Aedes japonicus. Additionally, I will be exploring the neurovirulence in mice models.
Presented by
Lindsey Faw
Institution
Virginia Tech University, Department of Entomology
Keywords
La Crosse virus, Aedes spp. mosquitoes, vector competence

Integrating white-tailed deer movement to predict urban Ixodes scapularis dispersal and density

Meredith C. VanAcker, Francesca Cagnacci, Maria A. Diuk-Wasser

Abstract
Previous tick-borne disease studies focus on the association between fragmentation and increased disease risk mediated by human-tick contact and host diversity. However, fragmentation also impacts disease risk through altering host mobility. In fragmentated urban environments, habitat patches become isolated and may reduce host dispersal, potentially changing tick establishment and persistence dynamics. Individual host responses to the landscape permeability can scale up to population distribution patterns, in turn, shaping that of ticks and their pathogens to drive human infection risk. We examine how the movement patterns of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) determine the distribution of blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) which depend on deer for dispersal in the fragmented New York City borough of Staten Island. We use GPS data from 60 Staten Island deer to examine movement responses to landcover types using integrated step selection analysis. We explore overlapping deer home ranges alongside I. scapularis drag data to display the overlap between deer space use and tick densities. Next, we will incorporate important covariates from the step selection analysis to construct a risk map for urban I. scapularis. Our results emphasize that habitat connectivity and host movement is a neglected factor that is critical to consider in urban tick-borne disease systems.
Presented by
Meredith VanAcker
Institution
Department of Ecology, Evolution & Environmental Biology, Columbia University & Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach
Keywords
white-tailed deer, Ixodes scapularis, urban tick-borne disease, movement ecology

Knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding tick-borne diseases in Long Island, New York

Mervin Keith Cuadera, Emily Mader, Amelia Greiner-Safi, Laura Harrington

Abstract
Tick-borne diseases (TBDs) are endemic in Long Island, yet resident knowledge, attitudes, and practices are not well-characterized. We administered an online questionnaire to evaluate their general beliefs and knowledge about TBDs, tick precautions, and willingness to pay for control. Most residents were concerned about TBDs, but prevention practices varied by county and demographics. Knowledge gaps existed regarding chronic Lyme and Lyme disease treatment. Increased anxiety about ticks also increased willingness to pay for control.
Presented by
Mervin Keith Cuadera
Institution
Cornell University, Department of Entomology
Keywords
Tick-borne diseases, KAP, knowledge, attitudes, practices

Tick-borne pathogen spillover risk from urban parks to neighborhoods in New York City

Nichar Gregory, Pilar Fernandez, Meredith VanAcker, Olivia Card, Maria Diuk-Wasser

Abstract
Parks and green spaces may serve as sources of tick and tick-borne pathogens to yards as animals move between them and residential areas. To characterise urban spillover risk, we sampled for ticks in residential yards across Staten Island, NYC, and assessed the yard and landscape characteristics associated with their presence.
Presented by
Nichar Gregory
Institution
Columbia University
Keywords
tick-borne, Lyme disease, urban zoonoses

Efficacy of a buffalo turbine and A1 mist sprayer for the wide area deployment of larvicide for mosquito control in a suburban setting

James C. Burtis1,2, Matthew W. Bickerton3, Nicholas Indelicato4, Joseph D. Poggi1, Scott C. Crans5, Laura C. Harrington1

Abstract
The control of medically important container-breeding mosquito vectors is an ongoing challenge for mosquito control operations. Door-to-door education and source reduction campaigns are time-consuming and aerial larvicide applications are expensive and often limited to non-residential areas. The use of truck-mounted larvicide application equipment may be an affordable rapid response option to mitigate public health risk. We tested the efficacy of two truck-mounted sprayers (A1 Super Duty + Buffalo Turbine), for the deployment of water-dispersible biopesticides (VectoBac WDG: VectoLex WDG) in four residential neighborhoods in New Jersey during 2019 and 2020. Bioassay cups were placed at pre-selected parcels in each site (three cups per parcel: front yard/back yard/side of house), with an additional cup placed in an adjacent catch basin. This approach was also replicated in two control neighborhoods. Following larvicide application, cups were recovered and used in bioassays wherein mosquito larval mortality was tracked through adult eclosion. Overall, eclosion rates were lower in treated cups compared to controls. Eclosion rates were affected by cup location but did not differ significantly between the four treated neighborhoods, nor by the type of sprayer used. Our research shows that truck-mounted larviciding can be an effective method of intervention in residential neighborhoods, but efficacy may depend upon the location of the target treatment area in relation to residences and other geographic obstacles.
Presented by
Nicholas Indelicato
Institution
1 Cornell University, Department of Entomology, Ithaca, NY 14850: 2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, Fort Collins, CO 80521: 3 Bergen County Department of Health Services, Hackensack, NJ, 07601: 4 Mercer County Mosquito Control, West Trenton, NJ, 08628: 5 NJDEP Office of Mosquito Control Coordination, Trenton, NJ 08625
Keywords

A computer-automated method for counting Haemaphysalis longicornis larvae

Nicholas Piedmonte, Vanessa Vinci, Thomas Daniels, Richard Falco

Abstract
Tick research often focuses on nymph and adult developmental stages due to their larger roles in pathogen transmission. While larvae are less directly associated with pathogen transmission, their distribution and density influence that of later developmental stages, which has resulting consequences for human risk. Studying larval tick populations can be a challenge however, due to their overwhelming numbers. Lint rollers are often utilized to hasten larval removal, but larval counting remains a time-consuming task. Computer software offers faster and automated methods of counting field collected arthropods utilizing digital imagery and segmentation. We used an image segmentation approach to develop a macro to count tick larvae on scanned lint roller sheets using the open-source program ImageJ. 133 lint roller sheets containing a cumulative 36,421 field-collected Haemaphysalis longicornis larvae were used to develop the macro. On average, macro counts were 94.3 ± 0.6% accurate. Manual counts took over 6 hours to complete, while the ImageJ process took approximately one hour to complete and tallied 98.3% of the total larvae collected. Our method offers a highly accurate and accessible means for labs to pursue larval tick research without investing large amounts of time and effort into specimen counting.
Presented by
Nicholas Piedmonte
Institution
New York State Department of Health
Keywords
computer automation, image segmentation, ImageJ, ticks, Haemaphysalis longicornis, field ecology

Seasonal Activity of Haemaphysalis longicornis in Southern New York State

Vanessa Vinci, Nicholas Piedmonte, Thomas Daniels, Bryon Backenson and Richard Falco

Abstract
The Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) is native to central and eastern Asia where it primarily feeds on livestock and is known to be a vector for a variety of pathogens. Since 2017 the species has established invasive populations in the United States. Although its seasonal activity patterns have been studied in its native range, the phenology of the Asian longhorned tick in the United States is not well documented. Following the first recorded human bite, which occurred in Yonkers, NY, a sampling site was established in a New York State park. Ticks were collected through weekly drag sampling from July 2018 through November 2019. In this time peak activity for larvae occurred from August to November, nymphs from April to July, and adult females from June to September. This activity pattern is consistent with those documented in the ticks' native range. This study contributes to the growing understanding of H. longicornis phenology in the northeastern United States and identifies which times of the year represent greatest potential risk of tick-encounter for humans and livestock.
Presented by
Vanessa Vinci
Institution
New York State Department of Health- Bureau of Communicable Disease Control
Keywords
phenology, Asian longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis