State Department of Health official to discuss ticks during April 20 program

BEMIDJI, Minn. — Melissa Kemperman of the Minnesota Department of Health will describe deer ticks and the threats they carry at a 3 p.m. program Monday, April 20, at the Bemidji State University Center for Research and Innovation.

Part of the Bemidji Area Natural Resources Continuing Education Consortium series, the 60-minute session is open to the public at no charge. It will be held at the center’s off-campus facility located at 3801 Bemidji Ave. North.

Kemperman, an infectious disease epidemiologist, will cover the natural history of blacklegged, or deer, ticks, the diseases they carry, prevention measures, and preliminary findings of Minnesota Department of Health field studies.

Deer ticks carry Lyme disease, which has seen dramatic increases in the state. From 1986 to 2007, slightly more than 10,000 cases of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases were reported in Minnesota, including a record 1,239 cases of Lyme disease in 2007. Exposure to deer ticks and Lyme disease occurs primarily from mid-May to mid-July when nymphal ticks are feeding.

Kemperman noted that the program will benefit resources managers as well as individuals wishing to learn which habitats present the greatest risk and the best methods of personal protection.

“The incidence of tick-borne diseases has risen dramatically in recent years, and increasing numbers of patients have reported being exposed to blacklegged ticks in western and northern Minnesota, including the Bemidji area,” she said. “I hope those attending will learn how habitat, climate and host animal composition affect the abundance and infection rate of deer ticks and, in turn, people’s risk of contracting the diseases these ticks carry.”

In addition to Lyme disease, deer ticks also carry the pathogens that cause two lesser-known but serious diseases, human anaplasmosis and babesiosis.

Kemperman has worked in the food-borne, vector-borne and zoonotic diseases unit of the Minnesota Department of Health since 2003. She specializes in the epidemiology of diseases transmitted by ticks and mosquitoes. She received her undergraduate degree in biology from Macalester College in St. Paul and has a master of public health degree in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

The presentation is part of an on-going series of Bemidji Area Natural Resources Continuing Education Consortium programs, typically held on the third Monday of each month. While covering topics of general interest, the sessions are designed for professionals working in the natural resource area and may be technical in nature. Groups participating in organizing the consortium include the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Chippewa National Forest, Leech Lake Division of Resource Management, Ainsworth, and the Red Lake Reservation.

For more information, or to be added to the mailing list for the series, contact the Bemidji State University Center for Research and Innovation at (218) 755-4900; toll free, (888) 738-3224; e-mail,; or at

April 20
– 3 p.m. – Bemidji State University Center for Research and Innovation hosts Bemidji Area Natural Resources Continuing Education Consortium presentation on deer ticks and Lyme disease. Presenter: Melissa Kemperman, Minnesota Department of Healt. Location: Center for Research and Innovation; 3801 Bemidji Ave. N.; Bemidji, Minn. Cost: free. For information: (218) 755-4900; (888) 738-3224;