Arizona is home to the Rocky Mountain spotted fever — a deadly but treatable bacterial disease spread through the bite of infected ticks — and as spring blooms across much of the state, UArizona researchers are encouraging the public to send over their ticks. This will help build the first-ever database of tick distribution and correlated disease in Arizona known as The Great Arizona Tick Check. A $1 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will fund the effort, which is a collaboration between UArizona Cooperative Extension, the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and the Arizona Department of Health Services.
"The central tick identification and pathogen testing program is an effort to create a much-needed map of what tick species are where in the state," said Kathleen Walker, who will lead pathology and genetic testing of ticks received from the public through her role as an extension specialist in the College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences' Department of Entomology. Once the program is fully up and running, the research team hopes to inform particular counties and rural areas around the state if Rocky Mountain spotted fever is present or potentially prevalent in a community.