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Ehrlichia Symposium Sept. 10-11 at MAC

PARK HILLS, Mo – With the number of parks and wooded areas in the Southeast Missouri region, it might come as no surprise that a Center for Disease Control report shows Missouri being one of three states in the country which, together, account for more than a third of reported incidents of the tick-borne disease Ehrlichiosis chafeensis.

To that end, Mineral Area College will host a symposium Sept. 10-11 for medical, veterinary, and public health professionals and educators who often identify or deal with the effects of vector-borne diseases like Ehrlichia, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The “vectors” are usually biting insects such as ticks, mosquitoes and mites.

Dr. Rhonda Gamble, Mineral Area College professor of physiology and life science, is organizing the event. In addition to Mineral Area College, co-sponsors include IDEXX Laboratories, the Lyme Disease Association and Missouri Dept. of Health and Senior Services. The tick collecting and identification workshop on Sept. 10 is $5, and the symposium on Sept. 11 is $10. Both days include lunch.

“We are hoping to interconnect medical, veterinary, public health and educators to build a greater understanding of vector borne diseases,” Gamble said. “It is important that our medical communities and educators understand the importance of these vector borne diseases that have such an impact on both human and animal health.  We are excited to offer our community such an outstanding panel of experts to share their expertise.”

For more information about the event, call Gamble at (573) 518-2195 or e-mail her at To register, please contact MAC Continuing Education, (573) 518-2342 or e-mail

Gamble said the presenters will focus on tick-borne diseases.

“We’ll get to listen to a veterinary/parasitologist who discovered Ehrlichia ewingii, and a physician that diagnosed the first case of Ehrlichia ewingii in humans,” she said. “We have a parasitologist from University of Missouri speaking on his research on tick-borne diseases, and a representative from the CDC in Fort Collins, Colorado, will give us an update on the status of tick-borne diseases.

“On a positive note, we’ll also have a researcher from Illinois who will speak about human land use and ways to reduce the habitat of ticks and a panel discussion of our speakers will end the symposium by fielding questions and summarizing the status of our knowledge about tick borne diseases.”

On Sept. 10, the symposium will take participants out on MAC’s Park Hills campus for carbon dioxide and drag-capture of ticks. Samples collected from the community college’s periodically-burned prairie glade will be compared with samples taken from another site on the MAC campus. Attendees will identify ticks in the lab using dissecting scopes and dichotomous keys to identify either ticks collected during the day or sample ticks brought in by the organizers.

On Sept. 11, the symposium will feature several presentations by the medical science community, with a panel discussion following.

Facilitators  for the sampling workshop are Bill Erwin of Joint Base Lewis-McChord located in Washington state, and Dr. Glen Needham of Ohio State University. Symposium presenters  will include: Dr. Sidney Ewing, who discovered Ehrlichia canis and worked on the pathogen that was named in his honor, Ehrlichia ewingii; Dr. Greg Storch, MD, who was one of the first to identify Ehrlichia ewingii in humans; Dr. Bill Stich, who researches the biology of ixodid ticks and tick-borne pathogens; Dr. Kenneth Gage, who received special service awards from the Department of Health and Human Services for responses to numerous outbreaks around the world; and Dr. Brian Allen, who works on answering the questions associated with the consequences of human-mediated global change, such as climate change and human land-use, on the risk of exposure to parasites and pathogens carried by wildlife.

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