Beard, Ben

BeardC. Ben Beard, MS, PhD
Chief, Bacterial Diseases Branch
Division of Vector-Borne Diseases
Associate Director for Climate and Health
National Center for Emerging & Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC, Ft. Collins, CO

“The Expansion in Distribution of Ixodes scapularis & Ixodes pacificus and Reported Cases of Lyme Disease in the U.S.”

Charles Benjamin (Ben) Beard earned a B.S. in 1980 at Auburn University, a M.S. in 1983 at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine, and a Ph.D. in 1987 at the University of Florida. He was a post-doctoral fellow and associate research scientist at the Yale University School of Medicine from 1987 to 1991. In 1991, he joined CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases, where he served as Chief of the Vector Genetics Section from 1999 to 2003. In 2003 he moved to CDC’s Division of Vector-borne Diseases in Fort Collins, CO to become Chief of the Bacterial Diseases Branch. In this capacity, he coordinates CDC’s programs on Lyme disease, tick-borne relapsing fever, Bartonella, plague, and tularemia. During his 25-year tenure at CDC, Ben has worked in the prevention of vector-borne diseases, both in the domestic global arenas. In addition to his work as Chief of the Bacterial Diseases Branch, in 2011 Dr. Beard was appointed as the Associate Director for Climate Change in CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, where he coordinates CDC’s efforts to mitigate the potential impact of climate variability and disruption on infectious diseases in humans. In his efforts to coordinate activities and enhance communication across the U.S. government in the prevention of Lyme disease, Dr. Beard co-founded and co-moderates two informal federal working groups on Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. The first is the HHS Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Working Group and the second is the federal Tick-Borne Diseases Integrated Pest Management Working Group. He has published over 100 scientific papers, books, and book chapters collectively, and has served on a variety of committees and panels both inside and outside of CDC, including working groups or advisory panels for the World Health Organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the American Meteorological Society. He is currently an Associate Editor for Emerging Infectious Diseases and past president of the Society for Vector Ecology.

Conference Lecture Summary

Ixodes scapularis or Ixodes pacificus are now found in over 49% of counties in 43 states across the United States. This marks an increase of 44.7% in the number of positive counties since 1996. The number of counties where I. scapularis is now established has more than doubled over the last 20 years. Over a similar period of time, the number of high incidence counties for Lyme disease in the northeastern U.S. increased by greater than 320% and in the north-central U.S. by over 250%. The numbers of Lyme disease cases in the U.S. continue to increase, and the geographic distribution of both Lyme disease and its tick vectors is greater than ever before. These findings highlight the critical importance of safe and effective prevention and control tools and methods.