Doctor tracks ticks for his neighborhood’s safety

Dr. Ahmed Kilani created a map of the areas of Quince Orchard park he intends to collect and test ticks on Tuesday, June 24. (Courtesy Ahmed Kilani)

WASHINGTON — Reports of tick bites and Lyme disease are on the rise in the D.C. area. And one scientist wants to track the severity of the threat for his Montgomery County neighbors.

Dr. Ahmed Kilani is an expert in infectious diseases. So when two of his neighbors got Lyme disease after they were bit in a Montgomery County backyard, he wanted to find out how bad the tick infestation was.

“We know there are ticks in the neighborhood. We just don’t know how dense the tick population is,” Kilani says.

He is tracking the ticks in Gaithersburg, Maryland, by collecting them from 15 hot zones — also known as high grass areas — around Quince Orchard Park and testing them for three common pathogens.

“The whole purpose of the project is to help our neighbors and the City of Gaithersburg to learn more about ticks and avoid ticks,” he says.

Kilani plans to post his findings in the community center, and asked the city to post signs around the park if infectious testing comes back positive.

“If we find a combination of a high number of ticks and infected ticks, this will raise alarm that it’s a dangerous area and people should stay away from it,” he says.

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