TickApp: Help Researchers Analyze How People Contract Lyme Disease

Jun 29, 2018

Cases of lyme disease are on the rise in counties throughout the Northeast and Midwest, including here in Wisconsin. We're currently in the peak transmission season, when the majority of people who contract lyme disease will be infected. 

"One of our core goals is to try to understand: Are you picking them up when you're mowing the grass? Could you possibly be encountering deer ticks when you're out there working in your garden?"

Experts advise people do a thorough check of their bodies after spending time outdoors. And while you're doing that, you could help some local researchers learn more about how to prevent the spread of lyme disease. 

Susan Paskewitz is a professor and chair of the Department of Entomology at UW-Madison, and one of the researchers working on the TickApp. The app invites users to keep a diary - with information about possible tick sightings, encounters, and bites. 

The project started as a collaboration with researchers in New York, who were trying to understand the tick activity and environments in their area. When combined with the resources at UW-Madison, Paskewitz says the app will give researchers the ability to compare information from both places and identify any differences or similarities between the two regions.

"When I first came to Wisconsin, the idea was that you went to your cabin up in the north woods and maybe you were hiking or fishing or clearing brush on your property and those were the kind of activites that were quite different here from what people there were experiencing. We're not sure that's true and we could really use the help of people in Wisconsin sharing with us more about where they're finding deer ticks," she says.