Over the years, we’ve tried a variety of new approaches to promote awareness or get relevant research information. Some (like this blog) have taken on a life of their own and exceeded our expectations. Some didn’t go very far. Our most recent initiative is the PetTickTracker, a website designed to collect information about ticks found on animals. The hope is that we’ll raise awareness, see where ticks are being found, see if ticks are being reported in areas where they haven’t been in the past and identify movement of new tick species in the area. That can indicate what education campaigns might be needed or identify specific areas where targeted tick dragging might be useful to follow up on interesting results.
That was the thought, at least.
It was launched two weeks ago, and I had no idea what to expect.
So far, we’ve had >1100 submissions…way more than I thought, and great news. We’re in the process of looking at the data now, and hopefully we’ll have some mapping data to present here soon. In the interim, here are some tidbits:
- Most reports were from dogs, accounting for 84% of submissions. That’s probably a reflection of their likelihood of exposure, their close observation by people and the number of dogs in households.
- The black legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) was most commonly reported, accounting for the majority of identified ticks. Dermacentor variabilis, the American dog tick, was #1. “I don’t know” was #3, showing how more tick ID education and resources are needed.
- The Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum) was reported 20 times in Ontario. That’s a tick type we’re watching in case it’s establishing itself in the province.
- 70% were thought to be adult ticks. Age wasn’t certain for 22% of submission, and 8% were identified as nymphs.
- ~17% of animals had travelled >20km in the past 2 weeks. This shows how mobile out domestic animal populations are and how it’s possible to track ticks around between regions.
Keep the submissions coming! The PetTickTracker can be accessed here (https://uoguelph.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8pEFcT8xAEyK6hv) or via the QR code below.