New study finds Extension offices have vital role in fight against growing number of tick bites

By EMILY STEELE | Media Communications Manager

Once uncommon in the Midwest, deer ticks, American dog ticks, lone star ticks, and others are now found across Illinois, and tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis are on the rise. Cases of alpha-gal syndrome, a red meat allergy, have also increased. Those who spend a lot of time outdoors, either for work or recreation, have a higher risk of being bitten.
Lyme disease tick at different stages. Photo credit: Wildlife Veterinary Epidemiology Laboratory – INHS
URBANA, Ill. — A call, email, or visit to the local University of Illinois Extension office can help provide some peace of mind. New research from a multi-department team of university scientists explored the role Illinois Extension has in educating communities about ticks and preventing risky encounters.

Read the whole story by Illinois Extension | UIUC here.

2023 International Freezer Challenge

Congratulations, team, for winning first place in the academic sector for medium-sized laboratories in the 2023 freezer challenge.

Amber Zillinger accepted the I2SL Sustainable Laboratories Award on behalf of the Wildlife Veterinary Epidemiology Laboratory at the 2023 Annual Conference and Technology Fair, October 22 - 25 | Anaheim, CA

This year, My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories recognized your team efforts internationally. Well done!!!

To learn more about the Freezer Challenge at UIUC, please visit the Freezer Challenge-University of Illinois website here.

Lessons Learned from Illinois’ River Otters

By Nelda A. Rivera and Nohra Mateus-Pinilla

A river otter brings lunch to the latrine site. Image credit: Wildlife Veterinary Epidemiology Laboratory©

CHAMPAIGN, IL – From river otters’ environment to their behavior- this article covers a decade of research in Illinois and the exciting findings.

For the complete story, please visit the Illinois Outdoor Journal, here.

My Experience at a Wildlife Veterinary Epidemiology Laboratory

By Miriam Schlessinger

Miriam Schlessinger with Evan London during the poster presentation of her research project at the Illinois Summer Research Symposium (July 21-22, 2022). Evan London, a Ph.D. student at the Wildlife Veterinary Epidemiology Lab, was one of Miriam’s mentors at the lab during her time with the Summer Research Opportunities Program.

CHAMPAIGN, IL – Miriam Schlessinger is a Panamanian-American in her junior year at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, majoring in integrative biology with a keen interest in infectious disease and ecology. In this article, Miriam shares her experience during her summer internship at a wildlife epidemiology laboratory. 

From the tiniest microbes to the giants of the deep sea, studying wildlife and the ecological relationships between them has been a life goal of mine. In recent years, I have become captivated with exploring the relationship between infectious disease and wildlife ecology as it sits at the intersection of many scientific fields.

For the complete story, please visit the Illinois Outdoor Journal, here.

Miriam Schlessinger | Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP), 2022

CHAMPAIGN, IL – Miriam, an undergraduate at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, shares her experiences as an intern during the summer of 2022 at the Wildlife Veterinary Epidemiology Lab – Prairie Research Institute (PRI).

Miriam prepping a tissue sample along mentor, Dr. Nohra Mateus-Pinilla.

“I think this internship will and already has affected my academic career in so many positive ways. I have made great connections with people in the field of infectious disease as well as in related fields of ecology and wildlife biology. This experience has allowed me to feel like a real scientific researcher and that has given me even more motivation to continue my journey in academia.”

Read the whole story on the People of PRI news website, here.

ICTWS Meeting – 2022

Congrats to our fantastic group of undergraduate students, graduate students, and lab members for their presentations at The 58th Annual Meeting of Illinois Chapter of The Wildlife Society, April 10-12.

Poster Presentations

Undergraduate Students

Rachel E. Lupas


A DNA Sequencing Strategy for Studying Novelty-seeking Behavior in White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)




Nora Ryan


Shadow of the Prion Protein in Chronic Wasting Disease Wild White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)



Continue reading “ICTWS Meeting – 2022”

Tick surveillance and control lagging in US, study shows.

First-ever survey of tick-management programs shows clear public health gap. Entomological Society of America

“Ticks are responsible for the majority of our vector-borne illnesses in the U.S., and our programming does not adequately meet the need in its current form, for both surveillance and control,” says Emily M. Mader, MPH MPP, lead author on the study and program manager at the Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases, housed at Cornell University.  American Association for the Advancement of Science – June 17, 2020

While the prevalence of Lyme disease and other illnesses spread by ticks has steadily increased in the United States over the past 20 years, a new study of the state of American tick surveillance and control reveals an inconsistent and often under-supported patchwork of programs across the country. Such programs are critical in managing the public-health threat posed by ticks such as the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis), shown here in multiple life stages suspended in a vial.

CHAMPAIGN, IL – A paper titled A Survey of Tick Surveillance and Control Practices in the United States “showed that less than half of public health and vector-control agencies engage in active tick surveillance, and only 12 percent directly conduct or otherwise support tick-control efforts. These and other findings from the survey, conducted by university researchers at the CDC’s five Vector-Borne Disease Regional Centers of Excellence, are published today in the Journal of Medical Entomology

Read the whole story at the Entomology Today website.