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Ixodes Outreach Project: A Northern MN Community Education and Research Program

Lyme Disease (LD) is an emerging epidemic in the Upper Midwest. Early identification of LD symptoms is paramount to effective medical treatment; knowledge of symptoms, how LD spreads, and getting immediate medical treatment is the best prevention. This NLM proposal introduces the Ixodes Outreach Project (IOP). IOP’s goal is to promote awareness of health concerns associated with LD and tick-borne diseases in northeast Minnesota’s isolated Arrowhead region. This will be accomplished through educational activities, a citizen-science program, and an undergraduate research experience. Education outreach will target Native American and rural populations and will include presentations at schools and environmental centers, development of LD brochures, information on MedlinePlus and the CDC tick-borne disease online reference. Workshops will be held to provide in-depth LD information; participants will be given “Tick Kits” and invited to be part of IOP’s citizen-research program. Tick kits will contain a Tick Removal Key with the University of Minnesota Medical School (UMMS) and NLM logos, tick and LD information cards, collection tubes, and mailing envelopes for tick submission to the Principal Investigator (PI). Citizen-science opportunities will involve community members collecting ticks for analysis of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria causing LD. Using tick kits from workshops, participants will provide ticks gathered in daily outdoor activities thereby assisting in identifying areas where the tick, Ixodes scapularis, shown to carry Borrelia, comes in contact with humans. A web-based “Tick Story Map” will further promote LD awareness. This online resource will combine images, video, a series of maps, including a tick-borne disease risk map, and a database for LD and tick-borne disease research. Citizen-scientists may review and contribute to the database using an online application to submit information such as weather conditions, date, time of day, vegetation and geographic terrain, and the types of activity when Ixodes tick contact occurred. College students will learn about Ixodes and LD as they gain valuable experience participating in field collections (tick drags), science enrichment activities to systematically survey for Borrelia-infected Ixodes, performing lab-based PCR analysis and presenting research poster presentations of their work.
Identify any specific population(s) this project will serve: 
Teens
Rural
American Indian
Identify roles of participants this project will serve: 
Educator, K-12
General public
Health care provider
Library or information professional
Student, college & post-grad
Student, K-12
Project Lead:
Benjamin Clarke
Funding Source: 
GMR
Project Funding:
Federal Fiscal Year: 
2019
Funding Amount: 
$49883
Funding Period:
May 1, 2018 to Apr 30, 2019
Project Status:
In Progress