Expert Advice: How does community-engaged tick surveillance work?
Host Amber Smith: Here's some expert advice from Professor Saravanan Thangamani, from Upstate Medical University. How does community-engaged tick surveillance work?
Saravanan Thangamani, PhD: So when a person encounters a tick, they can pull out the tick, and then they can go to our website: nyticks.org. There they can actually submit some information regarding where they got the tick, when they got the tick. And when they complete that form, we give them a unique tick ID. And they use that unique tick ID to send the ticks to my lab. Instructions for how to send the ticks are on our website as well.
And once we receive the tick, we then surface-sterilize the tick, and then we grind them. We put it in a special cocktail solution, too. And then we extract nucleic acids from the ticks. And then we process them for tick-borne agent testing. So we are testing for 16 tick-borne agents that are commonly present in the Northeastern United States. Once we identify what agents are present in the tick, we then send the results back to the submitter.
The turnaround time: On an average season, we try to do anywhere between three to five (days), but if the season is peak and we get a lot of ticks, it can be pushed back to seven days, on an average. But we try our best to send the results back to the submitter. We then use the data that we are collecting with what the submitter is sending and what we are collecting in the lab. And we provide that information to the general public in the form of a tick map or a tick dashboard, where any general public can use the tool to understand what are the risk areas for ticks and tick-borne agents in the state of New York.
Host Amber Smith: You've been listening to Upstate professor Saravanan Thangamani, from N Y T I C K S dot O R G (nyticks.org).