Dog in grassOver the years, we’ve tried a variety of new approaches to promote awareness (among the public, veterinarians and others) and to collect 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 goal is to raise awareness, see where ticks are being found currently, 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. This type of information can help inform where and 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 over 1100 responses… that’s way more than I thought we’d get, and great news. We’re in the process of looking at the data now, and hopefully we’ll have some mapping data to present soon. In the interim, here are some interesting tidbits:

  • Most reports were ticks from dogs, accounting for 84% of responses. That’s probably a reflection of their likelihood of exposure, their close observation by owners and the overall number of households with dogs.
  • The black legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) was most commonly reported, accounting for the majority of identified ticks. Dermacentor variabilis, the American dog tick, was the second most common. “I don’t know” was the next most common, showing how more tick ID education and resources are needed (there is a chart included on the PetTickTracker site itself).
  • 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.
  • Approximately 17% of animals had travelled over 20 km from home in the past 2 weeks. This shows how mobile out domestic animal populations are and how it’s possible for them to move ticks around between regions.

TickTracker short QR codeKeep the submissions coming! Access the PetTickTracker here, or copy the link below into your web browser, or scan the QR code with your smart phone.