PATH Foundation Awards Make It Happen! Grant for Tick Surveillance and Analysis Program

Fauquier Lyme Support Group leads partnership of organizations to collect and study pathogenic diseases carried by local ticks

Online PR News – 19-May-2016 – Warrenton, Virginia – The PATH Foundation (formerly the Fauquier Health Foundation) announced today that it has awarded a Make It Happen! grant to the Fauquier Lyme Support Group in partnership with the NatCapLyme (parent organization of FLSG), Old Dominion University Tick Laboratory (pathogen analysis), Clarke Company (a global environmental services company handling tick collection for the project), and the Virginia Department of Health (providing advice on tick collection and pathogen analysis).

The Fauquier Lyme Support Group’s primary purpose is to provide prevention and awareness information on the dangers of ticks and tick borne diseases so that citizens can safely enjoy the outdoors and take proper precautions. While Lyme disease has become widely known (and attributable to a bacterial pathogen known as Borrelia burgdorferi), there are many additional forms of tick borne diseases including Ehrlichia, Bartonella, Babesia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Anaplasma and more. The FLSG believes that tick borne diseases are on the rise in the region and can best be managed through awareness, prevention and early treatment.

Elizabeth Ussery, a representative of FLSG said, “Over the years, George Phillips, Mark Hunter (also with FLSG) and I have found that the number of people contacting us to say they have Lyme disease, or that a member of their family has Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, or red meat allergy (caused by a Lone Star tick bite), has multiplied fourfold. We have talked about the need to do a tick study and analysis for years. Now the PATH Foundation has made this possible for us.”

“We are delighted to be able to help fund this important study,” stated Christy Connolly president and CEO of the PATH Foundation. “As explained in the Virginia Governor’s 2011 Task Force report on Lyme Disease, it is a potentially debilitating illness that is impacting the residents of our communities.” The Governor’s report pointed to the loss of employment, ongoing ill health and extraordinary expense that can lead to bankruptcy, loss of homes, social stress, and other upheavals including lifelong physical and mental problems—all from tick borne illness.

The Make It Happen! grant will help support a tick collection effort in our region to study pathogenic diseases carried by local ticks, providing an important metric on infection rates that will be helpful to local care providers and the Virginia Department of Health. The study will focus on the Black Legged tick (the primary carrier of Lyme disease, among other pathogens) and the Lone Star tick (the dominant tick in Virginia and a carrier of Ehrlichia, yet another zoonotic disease.) Ticks will be collected and then delivered to Old Dominion University’s Tick Laboratory for pathogen analysis. Infection rate data will be disseminated to the Virginia Dept. of Health and local healthcare providers as well as through public outreach.

Clarke Company will capture the ticks using two collection methods: 1. Tick drag techniques (dragging a piece of cloth on the ground that ticks adhere to); and 2. Tick traps (deploying dry ice canisters which release carbon dioxide, a chemical attractant for ticks.) The ticks will be collected from residential neighborhoods, public lands and parks, as well as from private properties—approximately 10-12 locations.

Old Dominion University’s Tick Laboratory will use the latest DNA extraction and analytical techniques to identify pathogens and will produce a percentage rate of infection for those ticks collected. Currently, based on funding constraints, this study will focus on Lyme and Ehrlichia only; however, the ticks will be frozen with the hopes of additional funding in the future to perform additional testing for other pathogens.

The tick collection will begin the week of May 23 and the results from the study will be available in October. The study will provide a more detailed array of data to support treatment of Lyme disease and its co-infections within Fauquier County.

FLSG would like Fauquier County residents to contact them with information on those people who have developed Lyme or other tick diseases such as Ehrlichia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The group is also interested in knowing of pets or horses that have been tick bitten and developed these diseases. The group can be reached at lymeinfauquier@gmail.com.

Ussery added, “We are finalizing additional sites for tick traps and drags, so we also want people to share where they encountered the tick. We hope to have a true cross-section of the county—from rural to subdivisions to public areas such as parks, schools and trails.

Make it Happen! grants were created to energize the speed and creativity of engaged citizens working with non-profits to accomplish small-scale, high-impact, quick-turnaround projects. The program provides funding of $2,000 to $10,000 for ideas that can be turned around in 90 days or less. The application process is simple and applicants receive a quick response as to whether or not they’ll receive funding.

The goal of the Make it Happen! program is to engage the community and create success stories. Grants are being provided to 501(c)3 non-profits, religious institutions (for non-religious purposes) or local government entities in Fauquier, Rappahannock and northern Culpeper counties. The selected projects and programs have the potential to inspire and motivate the community and benefit people and organizations within the Foundation’s service area. Benefits will be concrete and tangible.
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About the PATH Foundation
With a legacy of community philanthropy stretching back to 1954, Piedmont Action to Health (PATH) Foundation was created in 2013, as the Fauquier Health Foundation, through a joint venture between Fauquier Health and LifePoint Hospitals. The resulting foundation manages the assets of this multigenerational gift to promote healthy communities today and in stewardship for our children’s grandchildren. In addition, the PATH Foundation assists area nonprofits with a portfolio of programs and support through its PATH Foundation Resource Center. For more information, www.pathforyou.org.

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