Study offers free identification of ticks from canine, feline patients

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Veterinarian removing a tick from a cat's earVeterinarians can send in ticks from canine and feline patients for identification free of charge. The service is part of a survey by the National Center for Veterinary Parasitology at Oklahoma State University.

The goal of the first phase of the study is to identify the tick species present on dogs and cats across the United States. Each veterinarian who sends in a tick receives an email with information about the species and life stage of the tick and which diseases the species is known to transmit.

In the second phase of the study, the NCVP will extract DNA from a subset of ticks to test for pathogens. The goal is to characterize the tick-borne disease agents carried by ticks on dogs or cats in different geographic regions.

The website includes a submission form and mailing instructions. The NCVP welcomes submissions from anyone, although the target is veterinary practices.

The NCVP has identified several thousand individual ticks from more than 1,000 veterinary patients so far, with plans to run the study through at least the end of 2019.

Dr. Susan Little, NCVP co-director, said, "We have found that many veterinarians and technicians are not comfortable definitively identifying ticks, especially immature ticks, and so we are happy to provide this service."