David Neitzel

David F. Neitzel

Epidemiologist Supervisor at Minnesota Department of Health

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Location:
121 East 7Th Place, Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States
HQ Phone:
(651) 201-5000

General Information

Experience

Vector-borne Disease Program Leader  - Metropolitan Mosquito Control District

Education

B.S. degree  - Wildlife Management , 

MS  - 

degrees  - University of Minnesota

Affiliations

Content and Project Advisor  - Disease Detectives

Recent News  

Dave Neitzel, supervisor of the vector-borne disease unit at the Minnesota Department of Health said "The sooner you get that tick off of your body, the better," in a recent New York Times article.

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There's a lot of questions yet," said Dave Neitzel, an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health who has been working with tick-transmitted diseases since 1985.
The condition, which has only been diagnosed within the past seven years or so, is a reaction to agents in the tick's saliva. But not everyone who is bitten by the tick contracts the allergy. According to Neitzel, those who get sick do not have antibodies against proteins in the tick's saliva. While Neitzel says the Lone Star tick is on the department's radar, there have been only a few dozen scattered reports of the insect in Minnesota in the past five to 10 years. "They're a rare tick this far north," said Neitzel. "We don't know how established they are in the state." "All we ever get are individual records of this particular tick and it's hard to know from that if they're established or not," he said. Other tick-borne diseases, Lyme disease and anaplasmosis, are more prevalent in Minnesota. Each year, the state sees upward of 1,000 cases of Lyme disease, the most prevalent tick-borne illness, and up to 700 cases of anaplasmosis, the second most common. In contrast to these more well-studied diseases, discussion of the Lone Star tick and the alpha-gal meat allergy started only within the past five years. "There's a lot we don't know about the allergy," Neitzel said. "It's too early to really say anything definitive." He said research is specifically needed to determine whether other species of ticks can spread the allergy and whether animals are also affected by the allergy. This time of year, Neitzel and the Minnesota Department of Health recommend taking steps to prevent tick bites from any species. "We're at peak tick season right now. Most of the tick feeding activity is from mid-May through mid-July, and this is the time of year for people to protect themselves against all species of ticks," said Neitzel. The best way to ward off ticks is to wear insect repellents containing DEET or, for stronger protection, wearing permethrin. Permethrin is sprayed on clothes and protects against ticks for weeks after application, even after clothes are washed. Whatever the method of repellent used is, one of the most important things to do is check for ticks after being in wooded or tick-prone areas. The sooner ticks are removed from the body, the less likely they are to transmit diseases, said Neitzel. There's a lot of questions yet," said Dave Neitzel, an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health who has been working with tick-transmitted diseases since 1985. The condition, which has only been diagnosed within the past seven years or so, is a reaction to agents in the tick's saliva. But not everyone who is bitten by the tick contracts the allergy. According to Neitzel, those who get sick do not have antibodies against proteins in the tick's saliva. While Neitzel says the Lone Star tick is on the department's radar, there have been only a few dozen scattered reports of the insect in Minnesota in the past five to 10 years. "They're a rare tick this far north," said Neitzel. "We don't know how established they are in the state." "All we ever get are individual records of this particular tick and it's hard to know from that if they're established or not," he said. Other tick-borne diseases, Lyme disease and anaplasmosis, are more prevalent in Minnesota. Each year, the state sees upward of 1,000 cases of Lyme disease, the most prevalent tick-borne illness, and up to 700 cases of anaplasmosis, the second most common. In contrast to these more well-studied diseases, discussion of the Lone Star tick and the alpha-gal meat allergy started only within the past five years. "There's a lot we don't know about the allergy," Neitzel said. "It's too early to really say anything definitive." He said research is specifically needed to determine whether other species of ticks can spread the allergy and whether animals are also affected by the allergy. This time of year, Neitzel and the Minnesota Department of Health recommend taking steps to prevent tick bites from any species. "We're at peak tick season right now. Most of the tick feeding activity is from mid-May through mid-July, and this is the time of year for people to protect themselves against all species of ticks," said Neitzel. The best way to ward off ticks is to wear insect repellents containing DEET or, for stronger protection, wearing permethrin. Permethrin is sprayed on clothes and protects against ticks for weeks after application, even after clothes are washed. Whatever the method of repellent used is, one of the most important things to do is check for ticks after being in wooded or tick-prone areas. The sooner ticks are removed from the body, the less likely they are to transmit diseases, said Neitzel.

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Part 1: Dave Neitzel, Vector Borne Epidemiologist, MN Department of Health

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