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UMass Amherst will receive $10M to limit risk of diseases spread by ticks, mosquitoes

An adult female blacklegged tick, also known as a deer tick.
Jim Gathany
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
An adult female blacklegged tick, also known as a deer tick.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst will receive $10 million over five years from the federal government to reduce the risk of diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes.

The award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will fund the New England Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases.

Researchers at UMass will collaborate with partners at universities in Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine.

UMass Microbiology Professor Stephen Rich is the executive director of the new initiative.

"We're trying to reduce the source in the wild to the extent we can and then tell people how to mitigate risk where they exist," he said.

Rich said if a person finds a tick on themselves, they should remove it as quickly as possible.

"Ticks that transmit pathogens have to feed for a length of time in order for the germs that are inside the tick to come out," he said. "If you take the tick off, you've done a lot to reduce the risk."

Rich said people should also know not all ticks are capable of transmitting Lyme disease.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.

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