FAQs2020-05-07T16:57:00+00:00

FAQs

‘Passive surveillance’ sounds complicated – what is it? What is Active surveillance?2019-06-19T14:39:31+00:00
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+00:00

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?2019-06-19T14:39:11+00:00

Unfortunately not. 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. 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.

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

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 or my pet! What should I do?2020-05-07T16:00:29+00:00

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 also be accessed through our How I-TICK Works under “I-TICK kit.” It is important to remember that not all ticks carry pathogens that cause disease. Particular tick species carry certain pathogens that in turn can cause a disease if the tick bites an animal. To learn about the most common ticks here in Illinois and the pathogens they spread, revert back to our How I-TICK Works page under “Tick Identification”.

Once you have removed the tick, you can choose one or both of the following:
1. Enter that information into the Tick App and take a picture of the tick for the app
2. If the tick is NOT ENGORGED, place it in a baggie with alcohol and in your freezer – Please see these instructions: click here.

How and when did I-TICK start?2020-05-07T15:35:15+00:00

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?2020-05-07T16:05:39+00:00

During COVID-19 pandemic:

Participants may take part via the Tick App or by freezing the tick for later submission. Please see instructions here. Our campus cannot currently accept ticks in the mail, but once restrictions have been lifted participants with ticks in their freezer can mail them to us.

Once the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted:

If you’re interested in finding a hub near you so that you can begin being an I-TICK participant, head over to our How I-TICK Works page and look under “How does it work for an individual participant.” We provide an up-to-date map on the locations of our hubs as well as an extensive list with information on how to get in contact with a public hub.

If you’d like to become a volunteer for I-TICK but we currently do not have a hub in your county, we suggest still taking a look at our map and seeing if there a close hub nearby. We are currently working on making sure every county in Illinois has at least one public hub to drop off tick-kits. If you still have any questions concerning how to get involved, please contact Peg Gronemeyer at mag6@illinois.edu and provide your contact information so that we can let you know when we have added a hub in your area.

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

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+00:00

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

I don’t know anything about ticks, can I still participate?2020-05-07T16:33:55+00:00

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 filled all 5 vials, but it has been over a span of a few months instead of two weeks. Can you still use these?2019-06-19T14:38:51+00:00
Yes absolutely!  The 5 days of collection over a two week period is an “ideal” situation because it gives us extra information about the timing of tick activity, but as long as a date and the location of the county where the tick was found is provided, we can use utilize the information provided.
I still have tick kits and vials of alcohol with ticks. What do I do with them now?2020-05-07T15:33:10+00:00

Please hold onto any tick kits you may have from 2018 or 2019. Once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and the campus re-opens, you can mail us any kits with ticks. If you need a mailing label, please contact us.

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?2020-05-07T16:55:50+00:00

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 phony 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+00:00

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?2020-05-07T16:10:16+00:00

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 in 2020 and 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 or by freezing a tick for later submission. Please see the instructions here. Our campus cannot currently accept ticks in the mail, but once restrictions have been lifted participants with ticks in their freezer can mail them to us.

What if I don’t find any ticks?2019-06-19T14:39:06+00:00
No worries. It is also important to learn of areas where no ticks are being found because it helps with targeting the best locations for active tick surveillance.
What is the purpose of the I-TICK program?2020-05-07T15:11:22+00:00

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+00:00

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+00:00

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?2020-05-07T16:22:01+00:00
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.

The I-TICK program wants to remind you that we do not want you to change your daily activities so that you can participant in the program. We are seeking passive surveillance volunteers who are often out in nature and would like to help identify possible problematic tick areas within Illinois.
Will participating cost me anything?2019-06-19T14:39:22+00:00

Absolutely not! Our I-TICK team distributes our kits to hubs that are participating at no cost to the hub or the participants. We provide the return labels and don’t charge for the materials provided as we are only interested in the information the ticks bring to our research. To put it shortly, participation is free and we encourage your participation!

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