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Mo. Dept. of Conservation, university asking Missourians to send ticks for research study

Updated: Mar. 31, 2021 at 4:30 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - Most people who have ventured through Missouri woods, fields, yards, and other outdoor environments have encountered ticks.

Ticks are large mites that drink the blood of humans and other mammals. They can also carry and spread pathogens that cause illnesses in people.

The Missouri Department of Conservation and A.T. Still University in Kirksville are asking people to save ticks they encounter and mail them to the University.

The ticks will be used for a new scientific research study to help better understand the statewide distribution of tick species and the human pathogens they carry.

According to the MDC, Missouri is home to three common species of ticks that bite humans: lone star tick, American dog tick, and deer tick.

Adult ticks are about a quarter-inch long and grow to nearly double that when engorged with blood.

MDC and A.T. Still University are partnering on a two-year research study to determine the presence of tick species throughout Missouri as well as the pathogens they may harbor.

The study will begin in April and end in September 2022.

“We need the help of many Missourians around the state,” said MDC Ecological Health Unit Science Supervisor Matt Combes. “Participation by many ‘citizen scientists’ is vital in helping us collect enough data at a scale unattainable by MDC and University scientists alone.”

To help with the research efforts, people are asked to place each live tick in a plastic zip-top bag with a piece of damp paper towel or moist cotton ball, then fold the bag and place it inside another plastic zip-top bag with a completed sample-submission form.

People are then asked to place the bag and completed sample-submission form in an envelope and mail it to:

A.T. Still University, ATTENTION: Deb Hudman -- Dept. of Microbiology & Immunology, 800 W. Jefferson St., Kirksville MO 63501.

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