UAMS needs your help collecting ticks across Arkansas to study Lyme disease

UAMS requesting help collecting ticks to study Lyme disease

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- If you find a tick on your dog or out in your backyard, UAMS researchers want you to send it to them.

They're working to find answers regarding Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, but they need help collecting at least 500 ticks from across the state.

"You hurt all over, you don’t want to get out of bed, it can cause you to feel depressed," said Tammy Harrison whose daughters were both diagnosed with Lyme Disease.

Harrison adds, getting that diagnoses wasn't easy.

“We were told they had mono, we were told they had allergic reactions, and we were sent to probably 10 different doctors," said Harrison.

Since the Arkansas Health Department says the state is a low risk area for contracting Lyme Disease, many doctors won't test for it.

"There’s a lot of controversy regarding whether or not Lyme is a true disease that’s represented in Arkansas," said Dr. Jon Blevins with the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UAMS.

Blevins is heading up research at UAMS, testing ticks for the DNA associated with disease-causing bacteria.

“As many people in the state of Arkansas that think they have Lyme disease, I think we need to do something to test whether or not there’s ticks out there that have the Lyme disease bacterium or a bacterium that’s really close to it," said Blevins.

Being in the natural state, he says tick-borne illnesses are a significant issue that need to be explored.

"Everybody’s at risk. If you go outside, everybody’s at risk for picking up a tick-borne illness," said Blevins.

He hopes to collect ticks from each county to figure out if tick-borne illnesses are a greater risk in certain areas.

“If they can find that the ticks in Arkansas have the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease, then maybe they can educate people more readily on the fact that Lyme Disease can exist in Arkansas and doctors would be more willing to treat patients with Lyme Disease," said Harrison.

Harrison hopes her message will encourage people from across the state to submit ticks to help with the research.

“Get these sent in and we can find out for a fact that Lyme Disease is in Arkansas,” said Harrison.

To submit a tick to UAMS, download and print a form here.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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