18/07/2017 2 min

A smartphone application to prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases

The Signalement-Tique application is available now and can be downloaded free of charge for use with iOS and Android smartphones. With this app, INRA and ANSES, in conjunction with the French Ministry of Health and Solidarity, are recruiting volunteers to participate in research to fight ticks and the diseases they transmit.

How? By promoting an unprecedented information gathering scheme in which participants can report their tick bites (or those of their pets), geolocalise them, and send photos - and even ticks - to scientists... Citizens and researchers working together to collect data essential for acquiring knowledge and better understanding and preventing Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. 

Ticks are the world's principal vector of animal diseases, and they rank second after mosquitos for human diseases. In humans, ticks transmit the bacteria which cause Lyme disease, with approximately 27 000 new cases every year in France.

Since the 2000s, ANSES, INRA and the Alfort National Veterinary School (ENVA) have conducted research work on ticks in ANSES's Maisons-Alfort Animal Health Laboratory and the Laboratoire Tous Chercheurs of INRA's Nancy-Grand Est Centre. This research brings together fundamental studies and participative research involving citizens. The studies that are developed can promote understanding of the pathogens transmitted by ticks in order to more effectively combat them. 

In the context of the CITIQUE projects, researchers have developed the Signalement-Tique website and smartphone application in conjunction with two scientific partners, the National Centre for Vector Research (CNEV) and the Borrélia National Centre for Reference, as well as with the Ministry of Health and Solidarity. The application can be downloaded on the AppStore and PlayStore platforms. 

The Signalement-Tique appli is a handy interactive tool that strollers and hikers can use to obtain information on how to prevent and remove ticks wherever they may be. It also provides a map of tick populations in support of tick prevention initiatives. 

Unprecedented data collection expected - thanks to the Signalement-Tique app

The data collected will be used to further scientific knowledge for improving understanding and more effectively preventing tick-borne diseases through the development of models for risk estimation. The citizens who participate in the project will play a decisive role in helping to provide answers to a number of questions, such as: Can tick bites occur in winter and summer, even though the favourable periods for ticks are spring and autumn? Are there certain times of day when tick activity and bites are more frequent? Do tick bites occur most often in wooded areas, city parks or home gardens?  What are the most common pathogens carried by ticks? In what regions? Users of the app will also have access to practical information and advice on what to do if bitten by a tick.

The Signalement-Tique app enables citizens to be better informed of the risks of tick–borne contamination contamination, and also gets them to play an active role in research initiatives.