Uptake in tick tracking will make people feel more comfortable outdoors, app creator says
'These people will now be better informed'
The creator of a new tool to better track ticks on P.E.I. said she hopes the data will allow scientists to track changes in different tick species across the country, as well as "lower the anxiety level of people."
Jade Savage is a professor in biological sciences at Bishop's University in Quebec and the creator of eTick.
She said as more people use the app and website on P.E.I., the more comfortable they'll feel when they're outdoors and less anxious when they find ticks in the wild.
"These people will now be better informed, not just in terms of what did they find, but also in terms of prevention," she said. "And bring people to understand that ticks are around, and what they should do to prevent themselves from further bites or at least to be careful and mindful when they do outdoor activity."
Savage said people living across Canada can submit a picture of a tick they found to eTick and their team will document and contextualize the finding.
"Someone from my team will look at the pictures, look at the dot on the map and provide an identification as well as information of medical relevance that has been tailored to the province of relevance," Savage said. "And this will all be returned within one business day."
Savage said the rising cases of Lyme disease has created anxiety in her province, with people even dropping off ticks to her office.
"There was really a lack of province-specific resources," she said.
That's where eTick comes in.
P.E.I. last province to join eTick
The first thing to do when you find a tick is to carefully remove it, place it in a baggie or dish and wash the area.
After you made sure you or your pet are OK, then take a picture of the tick and send it to eTick through their app or website.
"You'll have to answer a few questions," she said. "Drop a pin on the Google Map, for example, the date, did you find the tick on a person or animal? Then that's pretty much it."
After that you'll receive a confirmation that the submission was successful, and within a business day you'll get an answer or be asked to submit more images.
P.E.I. is the last province to join eTick, and it's been available for roughly a month now.
It was a slow start, Savage said, but there are over a dozen dots on the map now. It's all available for free on the website to see what was found, where, when and what it looks like.
Provincial officials recommend people check themselves daily for ticks, and said finding and removing them within 24 hours prevents possible infection.
In 2020, there was just one lab-confirmed case of Lyme disease, and that individual had recently travelled outside the province.
All suspected and confirmed cases of Lyme disease are reported to the Chief Public Health Office as part of the province's Public Health Act and Notifiable Diseases Regulations.
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With files from Laura Chapin