About TickSpotters

TickSpotters helps identify your tick and assess your risk

TickSpotters is a service provided by the University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center, www.tickencounter.org. TickEncounter staff can help you identify the tick if you submit a picture combined with your general geographical location. Tick-borne diseases are only carried by certain ticks in specific regions. TickSpotters helps to assess your risk BEFORE TESTING.

At the same time, you, and your pets are helping to monitor tick population trends and tickborne disease risk. TickEncounter is keeping track of tickencounters, and we need all of the TickSpotters we can get! Thousands of citizen scientists like yourself are submitting REAL data that's helping drive tick awareness tools like TickEncounter's Current Tick Activity app.

TickEncounter Resource Center Mission Statement:

The TickEncounter Resource Center promotes tick-bite protection and tick-borne disease prevention by engaging, educating, and empowering people to take action.

The Challenge

For over 2 decades, Rhode Island consistently has ranked 2nd to Connecticut in per capita incidence of tick-transmitted disease. Over this time, tick-borne disease has continued to increase in numbers and severity. To decrease tick-borne disease from Rhode Island and other parts of the U.S., we clearly need new strategies for prevention, including effective tools to prevent tick bites, to prevent pathogen transmission, for diagnosis, and for treatment.

Before recent advancements in science and technology, the thought of eliminating tick-borne illness from Rhode Island was a seemingly unachievable task, since even suppressing disease incidence rates seemed out of grasp. However, breakthroughs in current research along with growing successes in community outreach give us hope that eliminating tick-borne illness is now a realistic and attainable goal.

While the statistics are daunting, we are optimistic because we know that this problem can be solved. More importantly, we have come to realize that it is not enough simply to be aware of the problem; to make a difference, every one of us must take action .

The Solution

For over 10 years, URI's Center for Vector-Borne Disease has been committed to tackling Rhode Island's growing tick epidemic. In 2006, the Center launched a comprehensive initiative devoted to making swift progress in creating and implementing strategies to "drive tick-borne disease out of Rhode Island." To accomplish this, CVBD will be integrating its existing programs in basic research with new outreach programs, to highlight the need for applying a wide variety of "tools" to achieve disease prevention. Goals of this effort include:

  • Creating effective new vaccines and therapeutics to prevent tick-bites and disease transmission
  • Providing effective strategies for health information delivery and action plan decision support
  • Developing and promoting community-based tick control strategies to lower tick abundance and pathogen infection rates
  • Improving reliability in diagnosis and treatment
Thomas N. Mather, The Tick Guy

"The Tick Guy", Thomas N. Mather

Dr. Mather (a.k.a. "The Tick Guy") came to URI in 1992 from the Harvard School of Public Health, and now serves as director of URI's Center for Vector-Borne Disease and its TickEncounter Resource Center. His research focus is on tick ecology, area-wide tick control strategies, tick-bite protection, and tick-borne disease prevention. His research and outreach programs are diverse, including anti-tick vaccine discovery projects, evaluations of targeted tick control strategies, tick-borne disease risk prediction, as well as development of tick-bite protection decision support tools and social networking strategies for tick-borne disease prevention. His website, TickEncounter.org, has received local, national, and even international recognition. His work has attracted funding from a wide variety of sources, including the National Centers for Disease Control, the US Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Agency for International Development, and the National Institutes of Health.          

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