Marshfield Clinic Research Institute continuing to seek ticks for study

More than 3,200 ticks submitted from across Wisconsin

For the Tomahawk Leader

WISCONSIN – Marshfield Clinic Research Institute (MCRI) scientists are continuing to ask the public to submit ticks for the Tick Inventory via Citizen Science (TICS).

TICS was launched in April to survey the distribution of tick species in Wisconsin, including any new, invasive ticks that may be moving into the state.

“The response was phenomenal, as citizens scooped up ticks they found in nature or crawling on themselves or their pets and sent them to the Research Institute in pre-paid collection kits,” a release from Marshfield Clinic Health System stated. “So far, scientists have identified more than 3,200 ticks submitted by citizens, most prominently the American dog (wood) tick and the deer (black-legged) tick.”

The release said researchers also have identified nine brown dog ticks, which are most frequently found in the southern U.S., and five lone star ticks, mainly found in the southern and eastern U.S.

“The presence of brown dog and lone star ticks is intriguing, as it may indicate spread from their typical habitats to Wisconsin,” said Alexandra Linz, MCRI Associate Research Scientist. “We are trying to determine the extent and significance of this spread and the potential health effects.”

“Ticks carry pathogens that may cause diseases such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis,” Marshfield Clinic stated. “With new tick species becoming more prevalent in Wisconsin, the risk for potential newly introduced diseases increases. Brown dog ticks spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and lone star ticks spread ehrlichiosis, primarily in warmer U.S settings. Possibly because of climate change, the incidence of both conditions has increased three-fold in the last two decades.”

“Residents who enjoy the outdoors and physicians need to be aware of these diseases and their symptoms,” said Jennifer Meece, MCRI Executive Director. “As researchers, the information from this study and future studies can help us improve disease prevention efforts and early detection, as well as develop better diagnostic tools and treatments.”

To view a map of where ticks have been submitted from, visit www.tinyurl.com/2s3h4zku.

This map of Wisconsin shows where ticks have been collected and sent to Marshfield Clinic Research Institute for identification.
Dozens of ticks have been submitted from northern Wisconsin. Photos courtesy of Marshfield Clinic.

Ticks still needed; request a kit

For more information, or to request a pre-paid collection kit, contact [email protected] or 1-715-389-7796 (extension 16462).

Parks and nature centers interested in having kits available for their visitors also are encouraged to contact MCRI.

“Once the tick, dead or alive, has been placed in the collection kit, just drop it in the mail to submit,” Marshfield Clinic said. “Any tick found on people or pets is appreciated. Each kit will come with a unique identification number that people can use to look up, via an online dashboard, the species of ticks they submitted.”

Prevention is key to avoid illness

Marshfield Clinic said the mild winter resulted in a bountiful tick population this spring, which means a greater chance of contracting a tick-borne illness.

Symptoms of illnesses resulting from a tick bite can include rash, fever, joint pain, and fatigue.

“Contact your medical provider if you have these symptoms,” Marshfield Clinic stated.

Dr. Thomas Boyce, a pediatric infectious disease physician with Marshfield Clinic Health System, said Lyme disease is “by far the most common tick-borne illness in Wisconsin.”

“Testing is important, because early treatment is highly effective in preventing later stages of the disease from developing,” Boyce stated. “If you remove a deer tick that is attached and engorged, a single dose of an antibiotic (doxycycline) can reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease ten-fold (from 3% to 0.3%).”

“To reduce the risk of tick bites, spray insecticide such as permethrin on clothing, sleeping bags and tent fabric,” Marshfield Clinic said. “Wear clothing that covers your skin. Finally, have someone help you check for ticks after time spent outdoors.”

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