(Posted October 27, 2022)

Photo by Candice Hersh

Photo by Candice Hersh

HUNTINGDON, Pa.—Thanks to the support of U.S. Rep. John Joyce, Juniata College was recently awarded $995,000 to fund a public health initiative to benefit the residents of and visitors to Huntingdon County. 

Juniata College’s Rural Community Solutions to Address Tickborne Diseases: A One Health Initiative will combat a significant public health threat through local research of current and emerging tickborne pathogens and prevention and treatment education. 

“I’m grateful to the students, faculty, and staff at Juniata College for their work in this field,” said U.S. Rep. John Joyce (R-PA). “This research is essential to fighting the tickborne illness, like Lyme Disease, that we face, and I am proud to have these resources directed to support the health and safety of communities across Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District.”

Through the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2022, Members of Congress were invited to request funding for projects in their communities to meet urgent needs across the United States. Rep. Joyce worked alongside constituents throughout the 13th congressional district to certify ten projects in categories including community resources, law enforcement, infrastructure, health, employment, and military and veterans affairs. 

“Juniata College is very proud to lead this initiative. We are grateful to Congressman Joyce and his active support of academic research,” said Juniata College President James A. Troha. “This is a great example of government, industry, and higher education working together to study complex issues and create meaningful solutions to real world problems.”

Juniata’s One Health Initiative will select ten unique sites throughout the county for research over three years.

“Our goal is focused on education,” said Regina Lamendella, George ’75 and Cynthia ’76 Valko Professor of Biological Sciences. “We will begin by conducting a survey of tick populations in high-use outdoor areas and developing a computational core program to analyze, map, and track tickborne pathogens prevalent in diversity across those sites.”

Data gathered from the site survey and analysis of pathogens will be used to develop and disseminate educational materials for the public designed to drive prevention efforts.

The same qualities that create a haven for outdoor recreation in Huntingdon County also supply prime habitat for the blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick. These ticks are the most common carrier of Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and Powassan virus and are found in every county in Pennsylvania. Tickborne pathogens can be either bacterial or parasitic.   

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pennsylvania has a “high incidence” of Lyme disease cases, with 6,763 cases confirmed in 2019. The funding secured by Rep. Joyce will provide critical information and educational resources to the public. 

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.