Found a Tick? Don't Kill It, Ship It!
Updated: Jun 22, 2022
CBC recently posted an article about Graduate student Ebruvibiyo Daniella Ibru, a Nigerian visiting student at Mount Allison University, wants you to send her ticks!
Ebruvibiyo Daniella Ibru's supervisor, Vett Lloyd, is a professor of biology at Mount Allison University and founder of the Lloyd Tick Lab. Vett, having had experienced Lyme first hand, has been dedicated to studying ticks with the long term goal of minimising the chance of humans developing Lyme disease.
"Daniella (Ibru) is a MSc student studying the epigenetic basis of ticks infected with Borrelia, which are known to have more aggressive feeding habits and are therefore able to survive the winter." - - www.lloydticklab.ca
"Dr. Vett Lloyd has been working on epigenetics for more decades than she chooses to say."
This particular project involves looking into the possibility that the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, exerts mind control over the ticks it infects. As a result, they become more risky and aggressive, posing a greater hazard to humans. Their goal is to figure out why the bacteria causes ticks to become more aggressive and more likely to bite, as well as what scientists can do to prevent humans from becoming infected.
Adding to that, Vett Lloyd states that the ticks who are infected with the Lyme disease causing bacteria, are actually hardier and more likely to take risks. The ticks are no longer satisfied with a field mouse, but are "now going to be hunting more aggressively for people or pets, which is what this project is all about." - Vett Lloyd, CBC interview
As the climate changes in their favour, ticks have been spreading into new territory, making their way through Canada, exploding in population like we have never seen before.
Ibru is urging people in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec who come across deer ticks/blacklegged ticks specifically to put them in a sealed container with a wet paper towel and send them to their lab. You can get shipping information by emailing Ibru at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are unsure about the type of tick you have you can refer to our tick chart or just send it along anyway and they will determine the species at the lab.
The Ask? 500 Ticks
Ibru explained that they need to be able to obtain enough RNA for their study. They are asking for 500 ticks because they are not sure if they will be able to obtain sufficient RNA from a single tick brain and may have more luck with a cluster of ticks. After she gets the tick(s) she will dissect the brain of the tick and then will analyses the rest of the body for Lyme disease.
The study's goal, according to Lloyd, is to figure out why the bacteria makes ticks more aggressive and more likely to bite, as well as what scientists can do to ensure fewer humans become infected.
Why Should We Help?
The tick population is expanding rapidly and the more we discover, learn and understand about ticks the better equipped we will be to protect ourselves from this ever-increasing threat.