The eTick platform developed by Bishop’s University’s Dr. Jade Savage will be providing expert tick species identification and real-time monitoring in three additional provinces, helping determine whether specimens found by members of the public could transmit Lyme disease or not.
As the spring thaw begins, ticks become active again. In this time of COVID-19 pandemic, scarce health care resources are mobilized. Although confinement and social distancing recommendations are in place, many still enjoy walks in the wilderness, or working in their backyards, where they can be exposed to tick bites, including by species that may carry and transmit the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease.
Residents from participating provinces can use the new eTick app or the eTick.ca platform when they find ticks on animals, humans or in various habitats and submit a picture to have it identified by experts, notably to learn whether the tick they found belongs to a species susceptible of transmitting the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease or not.
In addition to learning what species of tick users have found, reported specimens are mapped in real time to better outline the area of distribution of the various tick species in the participating provinces. With this information, residents can gain insight on the prevalence of tick species in precise areas of their province.
The eTick citizen science tick-monitoring platform created by Dr. Savage of Bishop’s University’s Biology Department has now expanded to Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, in addition to its previous coverage of Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.
A new mobile application has been developed to facilitate and streamline the submission of tick observations in the participating provinces. It is now available for free download under the name eTick on the App Store and the Google Play Store. Users also still have the option of submitting their observations directly on the eTick.ca website.
New collaborators in 2020 include academic partners Profs. Emily Jenkins and Maarten Voordouw of the University of Saskatchewan, Profs. Kirk Hillier and Dave Shutler of Acadia University (Nova Scotia), and Dr. Joseph Bowden of the Canadian Forest Service and Adjunct Professor at Memorial University (Newfoundland and Labrador), as well as key personnel from the Newfoundland and Labrador Division of Public Health, the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health.
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