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Ticks, and what Montana should know about them



MSU Wire Services

Ticks and what Montanans should know about them is the subject of the next Cafe Scientifique to be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Baxter Ballroom in downtown Bozeman. The public is invited to this free informal discussion.

Tom G. Schwan from the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton will discuss the history of tick research in Montana and the public health significance of tick-borne diseases in Montana. Schwan is the chief and senior investigator of the Laboratory of Zoonotic Pathogens for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and the National Institutes of Health at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML).

Many arthropods have evolved to feed on the blood of wild and domestic animals including humans. While ticks comprise a relatively small group of such blood feeders, Schwan says their unique behaviors and life cycles make them especially important as pests and transmitters of a variety of disease-causing agents.

The RML Medical Entomology Section investigates bacterial pathogens transmitted by blood-feeding arthropods. Live colonies of ticks allow for studies that investigate the factors that are important for the infection of these bacteria in arthropods and for their biological transmission when ticks feed. Understanding bacterial adaptations associated with transmission is linked to developing better prevention and diagnostic strategies.

Cafe Scientifique, co-sponsored by Montana’s INBRE and COBRE programs, provides a relaxed setting for people to learn about current scientific topics. The concept started in England in 1998 and has spread to a handful of locations in the United States. Following a short presentation by a scientific expert, the majority of time is reserved for questions, answers and lively discussion.

For more information on the upcoming Cafe Scientifique, check the Web at or contact Laurie Howell at (406) 994-7531 For more information about the Cafe Scientifique concept, check the Web at

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