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Animal reservoir mystery solved

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A team of scientists at Washington University in St. Louis has been keeping a wary eye on emerging tick-borne diseases in Missouri for the past dozen years, and they have just nailed down another part of the story.

They knew from earlier work that the animal reservoirs for the diseases included white-tailed deer, wild turkey and a species in the squirrel familiy, but the DNA assay they had used wasn’t sensitive enough to identify the species.

In the May issue of the Journal of Medical Entomology the scientists, led by Robert E. Thach, PhD, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, report that a more sensitive assay has allowed them to identify the major species in question as the eastern gray squirrel.

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