Forty-Five Ticks Found in Quince Orchard Test

Orchard Park Tick Drag Clongen 450x280

Scientists with Clongen Laboratories of Gaithersburg, use a sheet to find ticks in Quince Orchard Park.
PHOTO | Krista Brick

When Ahmed Kilani set out in his Quince Orchard Park neighborhood on a quest for ticks, he didn’t think they would be hard to find.

He was right.

On a hot day June 24, Dr. Kilani and a team of scientists from his company Clongen Laboratories, Inc. of Gaithersburg found 45 ticks in a tick drag experiment to test just how quickly ticks can be found here and how many carried debilitating diseases such as Lyme.

In the 45 found, half tested positive for Babesia species, a tickborne illness where microscopic parasites infect red blood cells, according to the Centers for Disease Control website. Symptoms are similar to Lyme. Twenty-five percent of the ticks collected tested positive for Borrelia lonestari.  None of the ticks collected in the experiment carried, Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, according to Kilani’s report. Lyme disease is spread through the bite of a blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis or Ixodes pacificus) that is infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, according to the CDC.

Kilani said he was surprised that the ticks collected at the 15 drag sites in the community were of the Amblyomma americanum, Lone Star species. He said those species are most often eastern, southeastern and south-central states.

“It is concerning because it can still bite humans and still transmit so many other diseases besides Lyme,” Kilani said of the results. “We were also surprised to find the high percentage of Babesia. On average we find is about 13 to 15 percent (of the ticks tested at his laboratory that are positive for Babesia).”

Kilani said he believes there are many more ticks in the wooded and high grass areas that he tested than were found during his experiment.

“We did the procedure at the wrong time. We still collected a lot of ticks in a short time but it would have been best in the early morning or late at night,” Kilani said. His group started their experiment at 11 a.m.

Of the 15 areas surveyed, 11 ticks, the most of any of the areas, were found in Drag 12, the meadows area close to Great Seneca Highway and the farthest from homes. Other areas off of Winter Walk Drive close to the National Institute of Standards and Technology property turned up five ticks. The drag was done using a white sheet and a wood board to create what looks like a surrender flag that was dragged across a grassy area. The ticks, he said, are often standing on their hind legs waiting for a host to walk by them. The team used tweezers to lift ticks they collected off the sheet, bagged them and then tested them for diseases.

Kilani said he plans to present his data to the Quince Orchard Community Association and ask that signage be installed alerting residents of the high-tick areas.

“I would like to see a sign that says -tick-infested area.” Kilani said. “My  goal is to alert people not to venture past the grass line and into the woods in Quince Orchard Park.”

As for another tick drag- Kilani said if he does it he’ll do it differently.

“If we repeat it we will be dressed in a space suit,” he said, adding that when he returned to the office from the tick drag event, he found a large tick crawling on his face.

“I was so grossed out,” he said.  “I see them every day and I handle ticks but I am so scared of ticks because I see what happens with people with Lyme’s disease.”

Kilani said the tick on him tested negative for the diseases.

Anyone is welcome to bring ticks to Clongen for testing. The Lyme tests costs about $75.



A Quick Catch: Tick Drag Nets Results

Researchers from Clongen Laboratories pick ticks off of a white sheet used to find ticks in Quince Orchard Park.

It didn’t take long to find the first few ticks in a daylong tick hunt in Quince Orchard Park Tuesday. Dr. Ahmed Kilani, president of Clongen Laboratories of Gaithersburg, is on the hunt to find out if his neighborhood has a tick problem. He has 15 spots picked out to do the drag which consists […]

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Counting Ticks: Gaithersburg Doctor Plans Tick Drag in Quince Orchard Park

image of a tick on human skin, the cause of Lyme Disease

Dr. Ahmed Kilani gets about 25 ticks a day. They come to him in plastic baggies, via FedEx trucks and even hand delivered. That’s because his company Clongen Laboratories in Gaithersburg is one of the premier labs in the country that tests, label and catalogs ticks’ DNA for diseases like Lyme. Lately, tick bites in […]

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Krista Brick

About Krista Brick

Krista Brick is a multi-media journalist with Montgomery Community Media.


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