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Arthropod Surveillance and Pathogen Identification

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Blood-sucking arthropods are capable of spreading diseases among humans and animals, but they can also be useful tools for scientists trying to detect said diseases. In a method known as "xenosurveillance," blood-fed arthropods, such as ticks and mosquitoes, can be tested to determine the source of their blood meal and whether any pathogens are present. This information can help epidemiologists predict and prevent the spread of diseases that are transmitted by ticks and mosquitoes and may even be able to detect pathogens that aren't usually spread by arthropods. Smithsonian's Global Health Program researcher Devin Tunseth is currently sampling ticks and mosquitoes near camel herds in Kenya in an attempt to determine if xenosurveillance can be an effective tool for detecting diseases in camels.