Researchers find evidence of established North Dakota deer tick population

The Entomological Society of America highlighted a recent report on Thursday that found Ixodes scapularis, also known as blacklegged or deer ticks, were established in North Dakota.

The report, recently published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, said that ticks infected with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease were also discovered.

"This represents an expansion of the predicted range for this tick species and is of concern because of the ability of this tick species to transmit various disease-causing agents," the authors of the article said. "I. scapularis and associated pathogens have become established in northeastern North Dakota."

Researchers examined the insects from nine locations throughout the state by trapping small mammals and removing attached ticks. Deer ticks were collected in six of the nine counties surveyed, with two counties showing signs of an established population as all life stages of the ticks were present.

More than 300,000 cases of Lyme disease are recorded in the U.S. every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most Lyme disease cases reported in 2013 were heavily concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest, with 96 percent of all cases in 13 states.

The Entomological Society of America, which serves the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and others in related disciplines, publishes the Journal of Medical Entomology.