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UAMS tick study needs you

Learn how you can help determine the danger of tick-borne illnesses in Arkansas.

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is putting out the call for citizen scientists.

A research team wants to test ticks from all 75 Arkansas counties...but can't do it without your help.

It doesn't matter if you are at deer camp, on a hiking trail or in your own backyard.

If you find ticks you are encouraged to send them in to be tested.

A Hendrix College student spent part of last summer collecting ticks.

They are being tested for various disease-causing bacteria at UAMS...but researchers want more.

A lot more.

"I've told them at least 500 ticks,” says Dr. Jon Blevins. “And that may have been a conservative estimate."

Dr. Blevins has been interested in studying ticks...and specifically Lyme disease...since college.

"Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, caught my interest because it is very unique,” says Dr. Blevins. “Spiral-shaped...a really neat DNA structure."

When most of us think of ticks we think of the adult version, but Lyme and other diseases are transmitted by bites from tiny juvenile ticks which are much harder to see.

UAMS researchers want you, the public, to send in ticks of all sizes, dead or alive, starting now.

"We want them from everywhere,” says Dr. Blevins. “And we want as many as we can get. Because we don't have the resources to go as broad a survey...you know...across the state of Arkansas. So we're kind of...we're hoping that maybe the public can help us out by providing us with some samples."

When you collect a tick or ticks, put them in a zip lock bag...add a moist bit of paper towel or wet cotton...seal it and tape the top shut. Then put that sealed bag into a padded envelope and mail it to the UAMS address listed on the form.

CLICK HERE to download the form, then fill it out and send it to UAMS.

Air date: March 14th, 2017

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