GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Dr. Jean Tsao, Ph.D and associate professor at Michigan State University realizes many people are re-introducing themselves to the outdoors since the pandemic hit, so she and some colleagues from the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University have created “The Tick App.”
The app is exactly what is sounds like: an app that can help you identify and protect yourself from blood-sucking ticks. The app provides important information broken into two parts; outreach and education is the first part.
“If there is a tick find that they find themselves embedded or not, if they can take a clear picture of it and submit it online through the app, then within a day or two, they'll receive the information back on what kind of species it is in the life stage. And that information will come from graduate students in the lab. We're experts with identifying ticks,” Dr. Tsao explained to FOX 17.
That’s important, because as Dr. Tsao reminds us, not all ticks transmit the same pathogens. Some ticks are associated with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and others are associated with Lyme disease.
“If you do find out it’s a black-legged tick, you can talk to your doctor and decide whether or not you want to take one dose of prophylactic dose of Doxycycline.”
If you’re not worried about ticks, you can still use the app to help others through the research part of the app as Dr. Tsao explains. “The state health department and my lab, we don't have the ability to be surveying actively for ticks everywhere. So we don't know if there are some new populations. But if they contact a tick and they report it, then we could be like, ‘Oh, well, that's interesting that was reported from a place that we didn't realize there could be this tick.’”
Dr. Tsao adds even if you don’t find a tick, submitting that in a daily report can help in her research. “Is that because you use an EPA registered repellent? Did you stay on the path? You know, did you do a thorough tick check? All these questions, and that can help us because right now there aren't that many proven methods or effective methods that people are willing to use to reduce the numbers of ticks out there.”
You can find the app by searching for “thetickapp,” all one word, or go to their website at thetickapp.org.