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Tick Hunters Wanted: Purdue program seeks student & citizen 'scientists' to collect and study ticks

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Posted at 12:55 PM, Feb 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-27 12:55:18-05

LAFAYETTE — While most people try to avoid ticks, scientists at Purdue University want to recruit high school students and "citizen scientists" to help find them.

The "Tick INsiders" program is looking to train up to 50 high school students in tick identification, field collection techniques, sample preparation and how to send ticks to Purdue for analysis.

The student scientists will work with Purdue scientists to drag forests across the state so they can be analyzed in an effort to help improve public health.

According to Purdue, the goal of the program is to understand what Indiana ticks are made of and what their impact can have on the public health. A bite from a tick could transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever or any other form of bacteria or virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the number of cases of tick-borne diseases doubled from 2004 to 2016.

“Not all tick bites are the same. We don’t know what is passed from a tick to a human each time someone is bitten, which means that health care professionals may need to consider multiple tick-borne pathogens in a person who has been bitten by a tick,” Purdue Professor of Entomology Cate Hill said. “This program improves our knowledge so that we can improve our outcomes.”

Students interested in the Tick INsiders program should apply online.

Indiana residents interested in participating can collect ticks and send them to the lab for analysis.

Videos on safe and proper collection techniques, as well as how to send ticks are available here: https://tickinsiders.org/citizen-science-program.