Ticks are really just a way of life in Arkansas, and many people have suffered from a tick-borne illness or know someone that has. What most people don't know, is that Arkansas typically ranks at or near the top of the list nationwide for three major tick-borne diseases: Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Tularemia. Ticks in Arkansas are also capable of transmitting Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and Southern tick-associated rash illness. Many of these diseases can be fatal or cause long-term debilitating symptoms, but fortunately, they are very easy to treat medically if caught in the early stages. However, despite Arkansas being a hotbed of tick abundance and tick-borne diseases, many cases go untreated or are misdiagnosed because of the lack of awareness for these diseases among the public and medical communities. This project is the first step toward correcting this problem. We are actively collecting ticks around the state, identifying the ticks, and then screening the ticks for disease causing agents using DNA sequencing technology. Our goal is to determine high risk areas and what disease causing agents are present in the state, and then distribute this information around the state so people can be more vigilant about protecting themselves from tick bites and doctors and nurses can more readily identify and treat the symptoms of tick-borne illnesses. This is where we need your help. We can only cover so much ground ourselves and are relying on Arkansans around the state to help collect ticks from their local areas. Therefore, if you hike, hunt, fish, work in the fields, or have outdoor pets, you can likely contribute to our project.
We need Bradley County residents’ help collecting ticks! We identify and test all ticks sent to us, and the more ticks we get from more localities around the state, the better the information we can obtain about the presence of tick-borne diseases in Arkansas. Anyone that encounters ticks can be a citizen scientist contributor to our project, and we are relying on you to help sample the entire state. We are providing free tick kits to any interested volunteers. Pick up your free tick kit and find out more information at the Bradley County Extension Office, located at 100 East First Street in Warren. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.