A professor of microbiology and immunology at Drexel University’s College of Medicine is on a mission to map tick-borne illnesses and he is asking for your help to do it. Dr. Garth Ehrlich is collecting ticks from around the country to give science and medicine a better view of where tick-borne illnesses are and what tick species are spreading them and he is asking you to mail him any ticks that you may find.
When it comes to Lyme disease science already has a good view of the areas of the nation that are at the highest risk but recent years have seen a widening of that range and Ehrlich is looking to better understand where Lyme is spreading and increase knowledge on other tick-borne illnesses. Your data could help in giving science and medicine an upper hand in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease as well as other pathogens carried by ticks. Ehrlich commented on the potential benefits of his research saying,
“Savvy physicians could then say, in this or that region, ‘I know if somebody comes in with a tick bite, I should know to be looking for Lyme disease, or I should monitor them for, say, Bartonella or Coxiella.’”
The idea to ask the public for help on increasing the tick database came from Pennsylvania State University graduate student Kayla Socarras after Dr. Ehrlich asked his academic collaborators for help in collecting more specimens. Now with your help, they can increase their data points exponentially and they are not biased as DR. Ehrlich said, “We’ll take them from anywhere,”.
It does not matter if the tick bit you or if you found it on your clothes or around your backyard, they want all they can get. Ehrlich wants to be as inclusive as possible gathering data on as many species from as many places to look at as many pathogens as they can. “We don’t look for specific organisms,” commented Ehrlich, “Our test will identify essentially any bacteria that’s there.”.
To help Dr. Ehrlich, make sure the tick is dead first and place it in a Ziploc bag with a moist paper towel or cotton ball, really any moist material even a blade of grass, so the bacteria can survive the journey. Place the bag in an envelope with a completed form from the link below so Dr. Ehrlich can identify where our species came from and send it to this address:
Carol Hope, Drexel University Center for Advanced Microbial Processing, New College Building, 245 N. 15th St., Room 17113, Philadelphia 19101.
Now you can help in the fight against Lyme disease and tick-borne illness, send your tick specimens and it will be much appreciated. Good luck out there and stay safe.