‘Passive surveillance’ sounds complicated – what is it? What is Active surveillance?2019-06-19T14:39:31-05:00
Passive tick surveillance is collecting ticks while out in nature with your main purpose for being outside being something else. For example, one can be participating in passive surveillance if they are tending to their garden and collect any ticks that happen to be attached to you or a pet. This is different from active tick surveillance where researchers specifically pick locations to seek out ticks and their main focus is looking for ticks.
Are the diseases that a tick can potentially carry all human diseases, or are other animals affected?2020-05-07T16:31:13-05:00

No, many ticks can only transmit diseases to non-human animals. For example, see this about dogs: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_pets.html.

Can I get my tick tested through the I-TICK program?2021-07-20T16:28:58-05:00

It is important to note that the CDC does not recommend testing ticks for diagnosis. To learn more, please visit the CDC’s website about Tick Removal and Testing. The I-TICK program only test ticks for research purposes. We do not test the ticks we collect for diseases until after tick season is over and the testing is random. By the time the ticks are tested, the incubation period will have already passed on so it would be of no help in terms of receiving proper medical care. It is also unlikely that we will be able to share the data collected if a specific tick you sent through the I-TICK program tested positive for a disease. However, if you would like to have a tick that was attached tested, you can visit the TickEncounter website for more details. 

Do all ticks carry disease and how do you find what it carries?2020-05-07T16:29:27-05:00

Not all ticks carry pathogens that cause disease. Different tick species carry certain pathogens that in turn can cause a disease if the tick bites an animal. To learn how a tick actually can transmit a pathogen see here.
For information about testing a tick please follow this link to the CDC recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html.

Help! I found a tick on me, a family member, or my pet! What should I do?2021-08-11T17:25:54-05:00

Please do not panic. Follow the instructions of the CDC on how to best remove a tick: click here.

We have also provided a safety instruction sheet on how to properly remove a tick which can be accessed through our How I-TICK Works under “I-TICK kit.” It is important to remember that not all ticks are infected with germs that cause disease. Each tick species is capable of carrying only certain germs so your risk depends on which tick bit, and how long it was feeding.. To learn about the most common ticks here in Illinois and the pathogens they spread, see How I-TICK Works page under “Tick Identification”.

Once you have removed the tick, you can choose one or both of the following:

  1. Take a photo of the tick and submit information to the TickApp.
  2. If you would like to save the tick for submission to the I-TICK program, other passive surveillance programs, or for your doctor in case of illness, place it in a ziplock baggie (or container that can be sealed) with isopropyl alcohol and put it into your freezer for at least two days to kill the tick:
  1. If the tick was attached and/or engorged with blood,  Monitor the attachment site for a rash or signs of infection. If you start to feel sick and will be visiting your doctor, take the tick with you to the doctor’s office. While testing ticks for diagnostic purposes is not recommended by the CDC, providing the tick to your doctor can provide information to the doctor on potential diseases you have been exposed to.
  2. If the tick was NOT attached, NOT engorged, or enough time has passed that you are no longer worried about developing a tick-borne illness and want to send an attached, engorged tick – see How I-TICK Works page under “How do I participate”.
How and when did I-TICK start?2020-05-07T15:35:15-05:00

Dr. Marilyn Ruiz and Dr. Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, both from the University of Illinois, created I-TICK in 2017 as a way to fill in knowledge gaps on ticks in Illinois. Since then I-TICK has expanded to include collaboration between researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, College of Veterinary Medicine and Illinois Natural History Survey, Columbia University, University of Wisconsin – Madison, and the Midwest Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Disease.

How can I participate?2021-07-20T16:35:53-05:00

Participants may take part via the TickApp:  https://thetickapp.wordpress.com/. If you do not want to participate through the Tick App, we are also accepting ticks through the mail. For instructions on how to send ticks through the mail please refer to our How I-TICK Works page under “How do I participate”. Participants who send ticks in through the mail will not receive identification information about the tick. However, we will not be providing new kits to hubs. If you still have any questions concerning how to get involved, please contact Peg Gronemeyer at mag6@illinois.edu and provide your contact information.

How can the I-TICK program benefit me?2020-05-07T15:12:55-05:00

Ticks can carry a number of diseases that affect people and other animals. The data collected help identify where and when a tick comes in contact with people, pets, and livestock. These data then allow us to focus surveillance methods to determine the risk of disease. Additionally, the Tick App will provide information on what human activities affect the risk of finding a tick.

How will I know if I contracted a tick-borne disease?2020-05-07T16:13:56-05:00

For what symptoms to watch for in tick-borne illnesses: click here.

I don’t know anything about ticks, can I still participate?2021-07-20T15:44:23-05:00

Anyone in Illinois is welcome to participate in ITICK. However, participants that use the Tick App must be at least 18 years or older.

I still have tick kits and vials of alcohol with ticks. What do I do with them now?2021-08-11T16:44:35-05:00

While we have discontinued sending tick kits to hubs, you can still return any used or unused kits back to the hub where you obtained them. Hubs with kits can still distribute them to the public and send them back to the I-TICK program. For any questions regarding the use of kits, please contact an I-TICK Coordinator at itick@vetmed.illinois.edu.

Instead of tick kits, we are now promoting using The Tick App to identify ticks. You can download the app from iTunes and the Google Play Store. If you don’t have a smart-phone, don’t want to use it for this purpose or just prefer your computer  you can enroll through www.thetickapp.org

If I take a picture of a tick using the Tick App, how will you tell me and how long will it be before I get a tick identification?2021-07-20T15:47:44-05:00

During peak season we try our best to get back to people within 72 hours whenever possible.  However, because of challenges due to COVID-19, or if there are a lot of images or an emergency it may take a week or longer.

Everybody who sends in a picture gets an email reply.  We try our best to identify the tick species from the photograph, but if the original picture submitted is blurry, we will email you and request a new picture if possible.

We use people’s login information (their email) to send them the tick identification. Thus if people use a fake email address we cannot reach them.  Your contact information is kept private and never shared.

Tick-Borne Diseases – What are they?2019-06-19T14:46:06-05:00

Tick-borne diseases are diseases that get transmitted by ticks. Note that they are not specifically caused by the tick itself but rather the tick acts as a vector for the disease. The diseases are caused by the bacterium the ticks happen to be carrying such as Lyme disease or Borrelia burgdorferi. Ticks themselves are not born carrying these diseases and acquire it from feeding on an infected host so not every tick transmits diseases, only if they have become infected.

What happened to the Hubs and the tick kits?2021-07-20T16:12:09-05:00

In 2018 and 2019 the I-TICK program distributed “tick kits” to “Hubs” throughout Illinois. The kits contained vials of alcohol to hold ticks and those vials would be returned to our lab at UIUC. Despite COVID-19, we will be continuing the I-TICK program but have modified our approach to match the current reality of social distancing and other restrictions due to COVID-19. Participants may take part via the Tick App. You can still send ticks through the mail, however we are no longer providing kits to hubs. For instructions on how to mail ticks to the I-TICK program please check out our How I-TICK Works page by clicking HERE.

What is the purpose of the I-TICK program?2020-05-07T15:11:22-05:00

The goal of the I-TICK program is to gather information about the presence of ticks of public health concern in Illinois. Part of I-TICK relies on participation of private citizens to help us gather data across the state. The information I-TICK provides helps our lab determine the risk of tick-borne disease based on where and when ticks occur.

What time of year am I most susceptible to being bitten by a tick?2020-05-07T16:37:17-05:00

Ticks begin to roam during spring to early fall. It is during this time of year that ticks begin to come out and bite so it is especially important to practice proper tick precautions during the months of May to October. However, ticks can be active at any time of the year, they are just most active in May-Oct.

Why is the location where I found a tick so important?2020-05-07T16:35:57-05:00

The location where the tick was found is important to I-TICK. We must know at least the county where you found a tick for us to use the data in our analyses. We use the location where the tick was found to compare it to other factors such as land cover, land use, population, etc. to determine which (if any) of these factors affect the likelihood of finding a tick. Then we use that information to estimate risk of finding a tick which in turn is used by public health agencies to inform and educate their constituents.

The tick app can use the location function on your smart phone if you are comfortable enabling it. If not, please provide at least the county, but even better, a more exact location, e.g. State Park XX. All data are confidential.

Will I get Lyme disease, or another tick-borne disease, if I help?2021-08-11T16:49:03-05:00
There is no way for us to answer that, but please realize that not all ticks carry pathogens and a tick generally needs to bite to infect you. You can minimize any risk if you do not touch or crush a tick with your fingers. If you find a tick crawling, use forceps to put it in a vial of alcohol. The knowledge that I-TICK participants help us collect helps identify areas of higher risk of tick-borne illnesses. To see how a person actually contracts a tick-borne disease click here and scroll down to “How ticks spread disease”.

The CDC provides a lot of helpful information about ticks and tickborne diseases here.

Will participating cost me anything?2021-07-20T16:40:14-05:00


Our I-TICK team encourages you to report your ticks through The Tick App and it is completely free.

If you decide to mail a tick to the I-TICK program, participation will be the cost of postage.

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