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Scientists to breed ticks to study how to slow spread of diseases

To most people, ticks are loathsome, disease-riddled little bloodsuckers. Best avoided.

To Roman Ganta, they’re a scientific subject worthy of a life’s work.

He’s setting up a breeding facility in Manhattan, Kan., just for ticks. Soon he’ll be rearing thousands of the tiny arachnids, trying to learn more about how they harbor and spread sickness to humans and animals.

Ticks are responsible for the spread of more than a dozen diseases in people, including some that can be fatal.

“We have no vaccines for most of the pathogens,” said Ganta, a professor at Kansas State University and director of its Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases.