Disease Vector Ecology Lab Launches Tick-borne Disease Dashboard for Indiana County

Posted on 3/25/2021 10:41:27 AM

Public Health major Nicholas Seidel, interning with biology professor Tom Simmons’ Disease Vector Ecology Laboratory, has created a dashboard to share tick-borne disease data for Indiana County, Pa.

Simmons’ Disease Vector Ecology Laboratory is monitoring tick populations in Indiana County for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s five-year statewide tick-borne disease surveillance program. Blacklegged ticks collected on a biweekly basis in local, county, and state parks are transferred to the PADEP Vector Management Laboratory for pathogen testing. The ticks are tested for pathogens causing anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Lyme disease. Simmons’ lab is also monitoring Indiana and surrounding counties to see if other species of ticks of human health importance have established populations in mid-western Pennsylvania.

Public health intern Seidel joined Simmons’ lab this semester, and one of his tasks was to create a dashboard using the Tableau Public platform with the help of accounting professor Veronica Paz, who has considerable expertise in information systems. Tableau is data visualization software that many government health agencies and departments use to visualize data for the public. This project allowed Siedel to acquire data skills important to the field of public health and provide a valuable public health service to the community.

The dashboard currently visualizes blacklegged tick seasonality, infection prevalence of pathogens in the blacklegged ticks, and case counts and incidence rates of Lyme disease in Indiana County. View the Tick-borne Disease Dashboard for Indiana County, Pa. (Tableau Public).

Department of Biology