NEON recently obtained approval to begin testing small mammal blood and ear tissue samples for tick-borne pathogens rather than hantaviruses. This change will be reflected in the data product beginning in the 2020 field season.
The details of this adjustment in scope are the result of extensive dialogue with NEON users and advisory groups stemming from user requests to improve the utility of this data product. This will shift the focus to a set of emerging pathogens that are more abundant and widespread than hantaviruses, and that link the tick vector and small mammal datasets. This change will also improve the public health relevance, capacity to detect continental- and decadal-scale patterns, and overall data utility. Blood samples collected in excess of our capacity to test will continue to be archived at the NEON Biorepository and can be requested by individual researchers.
The 2020 sampling year will consist of a pilot project in which ear and blood samples from 5 sites will be tested for a range of tick-borne pathogens. The list of pathogens is likely to include: Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia miyamotoi, Borrelia mayonii, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Rickettsia ricketsii, Rickettsia parkeri, Francisella tularensis, and Babesia microti. The list of sites included in the pilot study will depend in part on the number of samples available given fluctuating field sampling efforts due to the pandemic; however the preference is to test samples from HARV, SCBI, TREE, TALL and SJER. Pending results from this pilot study, full implementation of tick-borne disease testing in small mammals is anticipated beginning in the 2021 field season. Moving forward, (from the 2020 field season onwards) all rodent pathogen testing will be for tick-borne diseases, and no additional hantavirus tests will be conducted by NEON.
Please use the data portal contact form for further inquiries and include the term “INC0039430“ in the body of your request