PodMed TT – Citizen Participation in Tick Research

Can citizen participation in scientific research teach us about ticks and their habits? As Rick and I discuss on PodMed TT this week, the answer is a resounding “yes.” A study published in PLOS One, undertaken by researchers from Northern Arizona University, invited folks around the country to send in their ticks, whether harvested from themselves, loved ones or domestic animals, for identification and analysis.

Promotion of the project was modest, and a budget to analyze 6,000 ticks was proposed. In the end, more than 16,000 ticks were analyzed, sent in from 50 states and Puerto Rico. Some surprises emerged: the “Lone Star” tick isn’t confined to Texas! And babesiosis, a tick-borne illness, has a much broader distribution than anyone suspected. Perhaps the greatest surprise, Rick opines, is that so many people all around the country stepped up to participate in this project. We both agree that it’s a novel way to accrue materials for research and applaud the researchers for thinking outside the box.

Other topics this week include mortality and fecal occult blood in Gut; late-life elevations in blood pressure, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease risk in Neurology; and a simple intervention undertaken in the ED to reduce suicide risk in JAMA Psychiatry.

Until next week, y’all listen up and make healthy choices.