Anyone that has spent time outdoors in Arkansas knows that ticks are abundant. Ticks are really just a way of life in Arkansas and many people have suffered from a tickborne 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 tickborne 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 longterm 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 tickborne 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 so doctors and nurses can more readily identify and treat the symptoms of tickborne illness. And 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. So, if you hike, hunt, fish, work in the fields, or have outdoor pets, you can likely contribute to our project.
If you'd like to learn more about the project or to get in touch with us for any reason, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to respond as quickly as possible. Also, for some excellent information about tickborne diseases in Arkansas and tips on prevention, click here.
This research is made possible through generous funding by the Arkansas Biosciences Institute and the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.