By Danielle Smith, Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease, UW-Madison
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Columbia University and Michigan State University have developed the TickApp, a mobile smartphone application that allows users to learn how they can protect themselves, their families and their pets from ticks—and join a team of citizen scientists helping researchers better understand ticks and tick-borne disease risk.
After an initial 5-7 minute survey to gather information about a user’s environment, Tick App participants are encouraged to tell researchers about their daily activities and tick encounters (or lack thereof) during the tick season in the “Daily Log” feature of the app. When users start making logs, they can get daily reminders to help them remember to check for ticks.
If someone does encounter a tick, the app has a “Report-A-Tick” function where users can share information about where the tick was found, on whom it was found and what kind of tick they think it is. They also can send in a photo of the tick to receive an expert opinion on what tick species it is.
The Tick App also provides individuals with information about how to identify different kinds of ticks, good ways to prevent tick exposure and facts about ticks and the diseases they transmit. The Tick Activity function provides information on the local activity level of blacklegged ticks throughout the year.