A real-time field test for rapid identification of Lyme Disease-carrying ticks

July 24, 2019
Laramie Lindsey combing for ticks at Itasca

VBS Assistant Professor Peter Larsen, and his field research team including postdoctoral associate Laramie Lindsey and DVM/MPH graduate student Kenwyn Shriner, were recently featured in the July 18 issue of the AAAS publication EurekAlert: "Researchers deploy a novel mobile lab for rapid, real-time pathogen testing in the field." Earlier this month, the team traveled to the headwaters of the Mississippi at Itasca State Park to deploy a new rapid-testing mobile laboratory, which allows gene-based testing of key pathogens in Minnesota ticks.

This testing method permits detection of pathogens such as the Lyme disease-associated spirochete Borrelia through the rapid sequencing of its DNA. The test can identify tick-borne pathogens within hours, instead of days.  The team's next stop is Borneo, Malaysia, where they will bring their field testing equipment to some of the oldest rain forests in the world to detect and better understand emerging foodborne pathogens in small mammals.

These miniature technologies are just getting off the ground, but they have great potential for rapidly identifying pathogens representing a wide range of emerging threats. According to Dr. Larsen, "The true power of the mobile lab is that it doesn't matter if it's Lyme disease, Ebola virus in Africa, or African swine fever on swine farms--the technology is applicable to any molecular diagnostics in the field."

The official press release on this study is available on the CVM website.