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Bats and Rabies: How UConn May Help

The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) within the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science (PVS) in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) at the University of Connecticut routinely tests domestic and wild animals for rabies. Rabies is one of the oldest recognized diseases to mankind. Rabies can affect all warm-blooded animals which plays an important role in transmission of the disease and serve as reservoirs for the rabies virus.

To detect rabies in animals, a set of strict standard operating procedures are followed. The CVMDL performs a Direct Immunofluorescent Assay (DFA) on brain tissue derived from dead animals. These animals, usually with a history of abnormal behavior, are submitted to the laboratory for testing.

The CVMDL tests many domestic and wild animal species on a weekly basis for rabies. Among them, bats are a fairly common submission to CVMDL for rabies testing. For instance, during 2016, a total of 28 bats were submitted to CVMDL, with the majority of the submissions taking place during the months of June, July and August. All of these bats tested negative for rabies.

graph of 2016 rabies tests in bats

Interestingly enough, in 2017, CVMDL has already tested 40 bats for rabies. The virus was detected in the brains of two bats that were submitted to the lab in July and October, respectively. Remember, always be cautious when dealing with wild animals. CVMDL suggests to call your local animal control to help collecting or trapping wild animals.

For more information, visit cvmdl.uconn.edu or contact 860-486-3738 or CVMDL@uconn.edu.

Tick Testing Available at UConn

Headed outdoors? Make sure you take precautions against ticks in October and November. Adult ticks are more active during this time of the year, creating a problem for both humans and animals.

These disease-carrying arachnids reside in moist areas, long grass and the leaf litter and will latch onto humans and animals alike. Although there are many different species of ticks, people generally think of one tick species in particular when worrying about illness: the deer tick. While the Deer tick is predominantly known for transmitting Lyme disease (caused by the corkscrew-shaped bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi) it can also carry other disease causing agents such as Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Babesia microti and Borrelia miyamotoi. These are the causative agents of Granulocytic Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and Borrelia miyamotoi respectively. A single tick has the potential to transmit one, two, or even all four of these illnesses simultaneously! Other species of ticks found in the Northeast such as the Dog tick (Dermacentor variablis), Brown Dog tick (Rhiphcephalus sanguineus) and Lonestar tick (Amblyomma americanum) can also be tested for different pathogens known to cause illness in humans and/or animals.

ticks

Photo: CVMDL

ticks being tested for Lyme disease at UConn lab

Photo: Heather Haycock

If you find a tick on yourself, your child, or your pet, remove it immediately but do not make any attempt to destroy it. The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) at UConn can test the tick for all those pathogens. Ticks received at the CVMDL are first examined and identified by trained technicians using a dissection microscope. This identification process determines the species of tick, life stage, and degree of blood engorgement, all of which are factors that may impact transmission of pathogens to the person or animal (the host). Ticks may then be tested for the DNA of pathogens that are known to be transmitted by that tick species. Results are reported within 3-5 business days of receiving the sample. Next business day RUSH testing is available for an additional fee. The information obtained from testing your tick at UConn is very useful when consulting with your physician or veterinarian about further actions you may need to take.

Compared to 2016, this year, the CVMDL has seen a significant increase in the numbers of tick submissions to the laboratory. In the month of April the number of submissions increased 92% relative to the same month in 2016. The increases for other warm weather months were 104% in May, 70% in June and 60% in July. CVMDL speculates that changes in weather patterns this year may have affected changes in tick populations and with that, increased number of tick submissions to the lab.

CVMDL is the only laboratory in New England accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. The laboratory is located on the UConn-Storrs campus and provides diagnostic services, professional expertise, research and detection of newly emerging diseases, and collaborates with federal, state, and local agencies to detect and monitor diseases important to animal and human health.

How to send in ticks: Please send ticks in sealed, double zip lock bags accompanied by a small square of moist paper towel. The submission form and the “Do’s and Don’ts of tick testing” can be found on our website at http://s.uconn.edu/tickform. You can also watch a video produced by UConn Communications for the Science in Seconds series here.

tick testing video

Tick Testing

ticks

Photo: CVMDL

Warmer weather months in Connecticut are the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. There are beautiful trails to hike, parks to visit with your children or dogs, and there is the simple joy of lying in the lush, green grass. Of course, with the warm weather also comes with the New England outdoor enthusiast’s nemesis – the tick. These disease-carrying arachnids enjoy moist areas with long grass and will latch onto humans and animals alike. Although there are many different species of tick, people generally think of one tick species in particular when worrying about illness: the deer tick. While the deer tick is predominantly known for transmitting Lyme disease (caused by the spirochetal bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi) it can also carry other disease causing agents such as Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Babesia microti and Borrelia miyamotoi. These are the causative agents of Granulocytic Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and Borrelia miyamotoi disease respectively. A single tick has the potential to transmit one, two, or even all four of these illnesses simultaneously! Other species of ticks, such as the dog tick (Dermacentor variablis) and Lonestar tick (Amblyomma americanum) can also be tested for different pathogens known to cause illness in humans and/or animals.

If you find a tick on yourself, your child, or your pet, remove it immediately! The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) at UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources can test the tick for pathogens. Ticks received at the CVMDL are first examined by trained technicians using a microscope. This identification process determines the species of tick, life stage, and degree of blood engorgement, all of which are factors that may impact transmission of pathogens to the person or animal (the host). Ticks may then be tested for the DNA of pathogens that are known to be transmitted by that tick species. Results are reported within 3-5 business days of receiving the sample, and next business day “rush” testing is available for an additional fee.

How to send in ticks: Please send ticks in sealed zip lock bags accompanied by a small square of moist paper towel. The submission form and the “Do’s and Don’ts of tick testing” can be found on our website at http://s.uconn.edu/tickform