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MSU professor helps develop app to track tick population

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 6:56 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - An app developed by a Michigan State University associate professor, Jean Tsao, is making it easier for people to avoid ticks.

Some ticks, like the deer tick, carry harmful disease like Lyme Disease. Graduate students at MSU, working directly with Tsao, tracks the tick population in Michigan.

Wednesday, Viva Kobbekaduwa was surveying Fenner Nature Center in Lansing since it is a heavily populated tick area. She drags a white cloth behind her catching ticks on her path. Then, she collects the ticks and identifies them in a lab.

To help in the research, Tsao developed this app for users to submit photos of ticks that have attached to them. Through the app, users can receive help in removing the tick, what symptoms to look out for, and quickly identify what tick attached to them.

“Basically it helps us identify where ticks are and look at invasion patterns of ticks,” said Kobbekaduwa. “We can monitor where the ticks are spreading in Michigan and we can be ahead of that invasion.”

The tick population has been on the rise over the past few years. A new species of tick has made it way from the south to Michigan,” Kobbekaduwa said. “The lone star tick is associated with a meat allergy. We’re seeing it in Barry-Eaton County. They’re coming in from the South West, so that’s a new case where climate change and global warming they’re heading north especially.”

Whether it’s the meat allergy, Lyme Disease, or Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, the first step in treatment is identifying the tick that transmitted it. Some of the most common places for ticks to latch on is around the ears, hair, backs of the knees, and arms. If you find a tick attached to you, remove it with a tweezers, and make sure there are no mouth parts left behind.

Watch for any symptoms over the next 30 days like a rash, fever, fatigue, and muscle aches.

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