A new app could help you avoid ticks and the risk of contracting Lyme disease.
Tsao worked with scientists at Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin to develop the smartphone app, The Tick App. It provides information on ways to prevent tick exposure. The app also shows how to identify different kinds of ticks and the diseases they transmit.
In addition, app users have the opportunity to be citizen scientists and help researchers understand how human behavior influences the risk of contracting ticks. Close to 3,000 people used the app in 2019, Tsao says.
“We’re interested in knowing if people use prevention methods, which prevention methods are used and what factors might influence the prevention methods used,” Tsao says. “These data will aid the development of more effective prevention strategies. ”
Tsao says one of the best ways to prevent contact ticks is to avoid their habitat.
“When hiking, it’s important to remember to not stray from the trail,” she says. “This is particularly relevant now during the coronavirus crisis since people need to social distance by staying six feet away from others, even on trails.”
Also, people should do a thorough tick check after being in tick habitat and take a shower or bath to reduce the chances of getting Lyme disease.
Lastly, Tsao says if you do get bitten by a tick, carefully grab it with tweezers at the point closest to your skin to remove it. Then, take a clear photo and submit it to The Tick App so the team can identify the species.
Afterward, put the tick in a plastic bag labeled with the date and geographic location where you think you may have contacted it, then store it in your freezer.