The "Best practices for urban planning in the context of climate change and emerging tick-borne diseases" (UPTick) project bridges the domains of entomology, ecology, geography, public health, and urban planning to address the emerging challenge of tick-borne diseases in Canadian cities. Our primary aim is to assess the impact of urban change on tick populations and tick-borne disease transmission.
Monitoring at-risk communities
We will develop maps that integrate surface temperature, land cover, vegetation metrics, and neighbourhood characteristics and evaluate based on known Lyme disease risk factors. During the duration of the project, we will be able to monitor changes to landscape features and identify when these factors may impact risk.
We will perform active surveillance of the chosen study sites using a 'drag sampling' method - dragging a one-metre square of white flannel over the ground and stopping frequently to remove ticks attached to the flannel. Ticks acquired with this method will be transported to the lab where we will test for infection of pathogens that can infect humans.
Wildlife Host Sampling
We will use live traps to collect samples from small mammals and estimate the abundance of wildlife hosts for ticks. The samples we collect will allow us to estimate the rates of infection with tick-borne pathogens present in the natural environment.