Ecologist claims his body KILLS disease-carrying ticks, making him immune to assaults.


Richard Ostweld, 68, from New York, has revealed he's been bitten by ticks so many times he's now immune to the critters

According to a 68-year-old New York ecologist, ticks that bite him are killed by his immune system.nRichard Ostfeld has been bitten several times throughout the course of his decades-long research of the bugs in the Hudson Valley.nAccording to the ecologist, the numerous stings have trained the tick’s immune cells to sense danger and launch an assault, a condition known as acquired tick immunity, which shields it against illnesses like Lyme disease.

The results are deadly to the tick and leave Dr. Ostfeld with an itchy and burning “spot” where the bite occurred that takes a few days to go away.

Richard Ostweld, 68, from New York, has revealed he’s been bitten by ticks so many times he’s now immune to the critters

He said when they bite him, he gets an itchy and burning welt around the location.  But the immune response proves fatal for the tick.  He is pictured above doing research on tick populations in the Hudson Valley

He said when they bite him, he gets an itchy and burning welt around the location. But the immune response proves fatal for the tick. He is pictured above doing research on tick populations in the Hudson Valley

Dr.  Ostweld has led a five-year project to explore ways to reduce the tick population and thereby reduce the number of Lyme disease cases

He is pictured above doing research in the Hudson Valley

Dr. Ostweld has led a five-year project to explore ways to reduce the tick population and thereby reduce the number of cases of Lyme disease (pictured above during research in the Hudson Valley)

When a tick bites someone, it begins to suck the blood while releasing proteins and molecules into the host’s body to avoid detection.

But in some cases, such as Dr. Ostfeld, the immune system has learned to recognize these proteins and launch a counterattack.

One of the main hormones it releases is histamine, which causes blood vessels to dilate and attracts other immune cells to the site of the attack.

It’s not clear how this could be deadly to ticks, but it’s likely that the tick absorbs a lot of the histamine and white blood cells, which could damage its internal organs.

The condition is rare, occurring only in a handful of Americans. It is thought to be caused by repeated tick bites.

However, health officials regularly warn people against being bitten by ticks because of the risk of contracting diseases.

Dr. Ostfeld told the Insider: ‘I get an itchy, burning welt at the site of the tick bite shortly after the tick tries to lodge in its mouthparts’.

He explained that this would appear even if he was bitten by a tiny larval tick – which can be no bigger than a grain of sand – and the pain could wake him up at night.

“It takes hours to a few days for any pathogens to leave the tick and enter your body,” he added.

Dr. Ostfeld said his body’s quick response likely protected him from tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease ? a bacterial infection that can cause facial paralysis, memory problems and death ? and babesiosis ? which can lead to organ failure and meningitis.

This is because the arachnids can’t suck up its blood long enough to pass on the pathogens.

Dr. Ostfeld has spent more than two decades studying ticks in the Hudson Valley and how they transmit Lyme disease to humans.

He has also led a five-year study called the Tick Project, which looked at ways to reduce the tick population and the risk of contracting the disease.

The long hours he spent in the field looking for ticks and trying to count them inevitably led to a lot of tick bites, which is probably why he got immunity.

However, he was never diagnosed with tick disease, and some experts suggest his body may have fought it off in the early stages.

Ticks are spreading in the US due to climate change, which allows them to reach farther north and be active longer during the year.  This increases the risk of getting Lyme disease

Ticks are spreading in the US due to climate change, which allows them to reach farther north and be active longer during the year. This increases the risk of getting Lyme disease

Pictured above are ticks in different stages of growth.  Dr.  Ostfeld said he even suffers from an immune reaction to tick bites no bigger than a grain of sand

Pictured above are ticks in different stages of growth. Dr. Ostfeld said he even suffers from an immune reaction to tick bites no bigger than a grain of sand

The chart above shows cases of Lyme disease reported in the US by year

The chart above shows cases of Lyme disease reported in the US by year

His case suggests the tantalizing possibility of a vaccine being developed against tick bites.

Dr. Ostfeld said: ‘In my view, a promising direction is to develop a vaccine against the ticks themselves, against the right choice of proteins and antigens in the ticks’ saliva.’

An estimated 300,000 Americans are bitten by ticks each year, but that number is increasing as climate change pushes the bugs farther north and longer.

About 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, up from 20,000 in the 1990s.

Work has been done to develop a vaccine against ticks, but this has focused on Lyme disease rather than the bites themselves.

Scientists developed a jab against Lyme disease, Lymerix, in the late 1990s, but it was pulled from shelves within a few years of its release amid reports that it caused arthritis.

The effort was relaunched by the European Union in 2013, with Pfizer and Valneva receiving funding for a new injection against Lyme disease.

This works by injecting proteins from the surface of the bacteria that cause the disease into patients, triggering an immune response.

It has shown promise in early clinical trials and is now in phase three trials being conducted in parts of the US, Germany and Sweden – among others – where Lyme disease is prevalent.

The trial had 6,000 participants when it launched in 2022, but in February Pfizer revealed it was removing a “significant percentage” of participants over concerns about poor practice at certain clinical sites.

The results of the trial are not expected to be announced until 2025 at the earliest.

Concerns about developing a vaccine against tick bites include the risks that it could cause severe allergic reactions that could be fatal.

Ecologist claims he is IMMUNE to attacks from the disease-carrying ticks – and his body KILLS them