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Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP)

Reducing the Risk of Tick-Borne Diseases through Smart, Safe and Sustainable Pest Control

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The Challenge

The number of cases of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases in humans reported each year in the United States has been increasing steadily, currently totaling tens of thousands annually. The reasons behind this increase are complex and involve multiple factors such as:

  • Ecological changes, possibly including climate change, and shifts in land use patterns.
  • An increase in deer and wildlife populations and closer associations between humans and wildlife.
  • Human behavioral changes that have led to greater exposure risks.
  • Improvements in disease diagnosis, surveillance, and reporting practices.

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EPA's Role

EPA recommends the use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as a smart, safe, and sustainable approach to managing ticks, thereby preventing tick-borne diseases. An effective tick IPM plan involves:

  • Setting action thresholds.
  • Identifying and monitoring tick species.
  • Identifying and promoting effective tick prevention tools.
  • Controlling tick populations to reduce risks.

EPA is collaborating with local, state, and other federal agencies, as well as universities and nonprofit organizations, to determine appropriate action thresholds and to identify critical tick surveillance (monitoring) research needs. EPA is also working with these same organizations to identify and promote IPM-based tools to control tick populations. For example, two conferences have brought together federal, state, and local agencies; academia; and other stakeholders to discuss the current state of IPM for the management of tick-borne diseases.

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Federal Collaboration

Multiple U.S. federal agencies share responsibility for various aspects of the reduction of tick-borne diseases. The federal Tick-Borne Disease IPM Workgroup grew out of the need for improved collaboration across these agencies. EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs co-chairs this workgroup with CDC. The workgroup was created for the purpose of enhancing communication and collaboration among agencies involved in tick management as it relates to human health, companion animals, and wildlife that may serve as potential animal reservoirs of human disease.

The 14 federal agencies represented on the workgroup have developed a white paper that addresses federal tick IPM efforts. The Federal Initiative: Tick-Borne Disease Integrated Pest Management White Paper inventories past and current endeavors and identifies potential opportunities for future research and collaboration.

As co-lead of the federal Tick-Borne Disease Workgroup, we have a role in several activities identified in the white paper. These activities include:

  • Coordinating discussion within the workgroup on basic and applied research on human and environmental health and research on the health of wildlife and domesticated food animals.
  • Supporting conferences, workshops, and workgroups to promote outreach on smart, safe, and sustainable tick IPM tools for EPA’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program members, local, state, and federal entities, and the public.
  • Promoting the development of scale-sensitive risk modeling tools through research with EPA’s Office of Research and Development and in collaboration with our federal partners.
  • Developing a tick IPM outreach component to incorporate into EPA’s Strategic and Implementation Plan for School IPM to reduce risk to children, a known sensitive subpopulation, to tick-borne diseases.

Take the proper safety precautions to reduce your chances of being bitten by a tick. Learn more about how to avoid ticks, the geographic location of ticks in the U.S., diseases transmitted by ticks, how to remove ticks, symptoms of tick borne illness and more.

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Additional Information to Control Ticks and Protect Yourself

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