As the Spring thaw begins, ticks are becoming active again. The eTick.ca citizen science tick-monitoring platform created by Dr. Jade Savage of Bishop’s University’s Biology Department has been upgraded and is ready to expand to Ontario and New Brunswick, thanks to the financial support of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Using the eTick.ca platform, members of the public who find ticks on animals, humans or in various habitats can submit a picture of the tick to have it identified by trained personnel, notably to learn whether the tick they found belongs to a species susceptible of transmitting Lyme disease or not.
In addition to discovering what species of tick they have found, users will see their record appear in real time on a map to better outline the area of distribution of the various tick species in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick. With this information, residents can gain insight on the prevalence of tick species in precise areas of those three provinces.
“The current context of rapid environmental changes requires new approaches to monitor modifications in wildlife distribution, especially for groups of medical relevance such as ticks,” explains Dr. Savage. “With eTick.ca we created an online tool to directly engage Canadians to participate in this monitoring effort. In exchange for the submission of tick pictures on our platform, we provide each contributor with rapid identification and public-health information about the species collected. It’s a win-win situation where our knowledge of tick species distribution is improved, and members of the public gain insight about whether the type of tick they have found may pose health risks or not.”
Collaborators include academic partners Dr. Manisha Kulkarni of the University of Ottawa, Dr. Claire Jardine of the University of Guelph, and Drs. Stephen Heard and Joe Nocera of the University of New Brunswick as well as key personnel from the Laboratoire de santé publique du Québec, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Public Health Ontario, and New Brunswick Department of Health.
To submit a tick specimen for identification by experts, or to view what types of ticks have been reported in your area, visit www.etick.ca.
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