Portland Maine

I ended my last post telling you we took the bus to see a bit of the country. The bus was great it had a toilet, WiFi and TV screens which showed Madagascar 2, but the landscape we saw was trees. The highway is lined with trees, coming from South Uist where there is a distinct lack of trees, I love seeing trees which was convenient because aside from the occasional bit a farm land it was trees all the way.

On Thursday I went to Maine Medical Research Centre

To meet the team at the Vector Lab

Maggie Welch, Robert Smith MD MPH, Chuck Lubelcyzk MPH

Libby and Danielle research assistants.

I will find out more about their individual roles over the next couple of weeks. The team are dedicated to investigate the spread of disease- carrying ticks and mosquitoes in Maine and the disease agents they carry. The studies they undertake seek to understand the environmental interactions of vectors, hosts, habitats and climate they monitor the geography of risk and use the knowledge to increase public awareness of the threat of tick and mosquito- borne diseases. During my time in Maine I will find out more about the studies the lab is currently working on as well as meet some of the other people and agencies that collaborate with the lab in the different aspects to be considered with ticks and Lyme disease.

Chuck and I went to see one of the research sites closest to the lab. The site was located in Cape Elizabeth on a privately owned estate.

Ticks are predominately found in the thick undergrowth and this plant Japanese Barberry which is non native provides a cover for lots of tick habitat. It is one of many non native species causing problems. More information available at : https://wildseedproject.net/2017/07/invasive-plants-maines-ecological-puzzle

When we returned to the lab I met Susan Elias a PHD student within the lab. Susan spoke about the importance of considering all the aspects that are involved when trying to manage Ticks and tick borne disease, you cannot act on one aspect alone.

I will discuss the poster she has in the picture later in the blog.

The following day Libby, Danielle and I set out to Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve. Each year thousands of children and adults participate in educational programs at the ‘Living laboratory’, in the barn classroom, and in a modern teaching laboratory. The Wells reserve protects 2,250 acres of coastal habitats on Maine’s southwest coast. The site serves a s a model for best management practices in conservation, Science is at the core of their mission.

The vector lab has been carrying out field work on the reserve since 1994.

The vector lab area is marked into transects and drags are performed each week. Libby has memorised them all!. During each drag ticks are collected and labelled and taken back to the lab for analysis. Danielle and Libby will tell me more about the analysis next week, however within some areas of the reserve the ticks are 60% positivity for borrelia.

These are two of the many boards displayed within the reserve. A missed opportunity for tick awareness information though. I thought there would be lots of information available to those who attend the reserve. The only poster I found was in the bathroom

The reserve is a great resource and used by many, more information available here: https://www.wellsreserve.org/about-us/wells-reserve-and-laudholm-trust.

After finishing at the Wells Reserve DA and I made for downtown Portland. A must do activity is a ‘Duck tour’, a bus that goes from road to water, taking us around the sites of Portland.

The tour guide told us about ‘Free Friday’ at the Museum of Art, to encourage people to visit it is free to attend between 4-8 pm on a Friday.

We were pleasantly surprised by some of the artwork on display

Pablo Picasso

Claude Monet

My favourite was this George Morse. Did I say I liked tree’s.

To ensure all genres are covered this mattress was also on display.

I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Portland Museum of Art.

Regarding food and drink those who know DA will know he is a bit of a tea connoisseur, so his quest led us to soakology http://www.soakology.com/, an extraordinary place where you can have tea and foot massage. No time for a massage but the tea was very good.

The restaurant Fore street http://www.forestreet.biz/ was recommended by an Uber driver and it lived up to our expectations. The entrance was lovely

I could go on but Ill leave it there for now, let me know if you like what you are seeing.

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