Perhaps the best way of stopping tick-borne diseases is public awareness campaigns, but these must be well targeted to achieve good results without wearing people out with unnecessary warnings. While ticks are widespread, the diseases they carry don’t travel quite as well, so knowing where tick-borne pathogens are found can be of great advantage. In addition, knowing how the diseases are distributed geographically in animal hosts can point to new ways of curtailing them.
The Bay Area Lyme Foundation recently asked people from around the United States to send them ticks that they find around where they live. The foundation received thousands more submissions than it hoped to, which helped them to create an unprecedented map of tick-borne diseases, including Lyme and babesiosis.
The research will be of great use for researchers in the field, but it also points to a novel way of harnessing thousands of concerned citizens to help with research that can only be done with the help of large, distributed groups of people.
Image: Ervic Aquino/California Department of Public Health…