Missouri Department of Conservation asks for help in first-time tick study


ST. LOUIS – Ticks are arachnids, part of the spider family. While they are very small, the effects they can have on our health can be large. With this warmer weather, they are really coming out.

“What we find is when the phone rings early it usually indicates that we’re going to have a real tough year and it’s already started happening,” Jay Everitt, the technical director for Rottler Pest Solutions, said. “We’re anticipating a bunker year.”

As your pets and kids play outside, be aware of the areas where the grass is tall. Wear long sleeves and inspect yourself regularly.

Also, use repellants.

“We usually recommend something around a 25% DEET. So the Offs, the Deepwoods Offs,” Everitt said.

Be aware of seed ticks. In the fall, adult ticks lay eggs in the foliage. When the weather starts turning, they begin developing.

“A lot of times you think about they lay thousands of eggs at a time so they’re all concentrated. So if your dog runs through them, potentially you’ve got a couple hundred to a thousand of these seed ticks, if you will, grabbing on and looking for their first meal,” Everitt said. “That’s the sole goal in their life. At that point in their life cycle is to gain a blood meal which is how they develop.”

The Missouri Department of Conservation just launched a study that has never been done before in the state of Missouri. They’re asking for our help with their science project.

“We don’t have a comprehensive map of where all the tick species occur and much less the disease-causing agents,” Matt Combes, the Ecological Health Unit Science Supervisor at the Missouri Department of Conservation, said.

This study is very important because Missouri is considered a gap state in information by the CDC.

“They recently did a nationwide look at where ticks species are known from and less than half the counties in Missouri have any verifiable tick information at all,” Combes said. “So we want to fill in the map in every county in the state to know which ticks are there. That’s very helpful in knowing what diseases you might encounter there.”

This information will help doctors.

“We hope that increases the ability of the Department of Health and Senior Services to get information to physicians on diagnosing tick diseases properly,” Combes said.

While you’re out in nature, if you find a tick on yourself or your pet they are asking that you send it to the lab at A.T. Still University in Kirksville.

For more information and to download the submission form, visit https://www.atsu.edu/missouri-ticks-and-tick-borne-pathogen-surveillance-research.

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