Student Kylie Brecheisen discovers parasites previously unrecorded in Oklahoma

Kylie Brecheisen and a photomicrograph of one of the lice she discovered on a crow.

In Dr. Chris McAllister’s (EOSC-Idabel Science Professor) Spring 2018 Introduction to Microbiology class, students are required to make a collection of ectoparasites from various hosts in the area.  Examples of these parasites would include ticks, fleas, lice, mites, leeches, and bed bugs.  In lab, the parasites will be prepared and processed by each student and mounted on microscopic slides for future reference.

One student in the class, Ms. Kylie Brecheisen, has been fortunate enough in her collections to provide three species of chewing lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) taken from dead birds and a flea (Insecta: Siphonaptera) from a woodrat found dead and salvaged in Smithville that have been identified as new state records.  In other words, these lice and the flea, to date, have never been reported from Oklahoma.

Identifications were made by renown ectoparasite expert, Dr. Lance Durden of Georgia Southern University (GSU) in Statesboro, Georgia.  Voucher specimens of lice have also been deposited in the GSU collection.  Future plans are for the three above to publish a paper on their findings in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science.  More importantly, this will be Kylie’s first publication in a refereed scientific journal.

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