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Preventing ticks with your smartphone

The Tick Prevention App, a tool to help prevent tick-borne diseases, was launched on the market in March 2015 for smartphones and tablets. It comprises a warning and information section and explains exactly what you should do if you are bitten by a tick.

 
Screenshot
Fig. 1 - Screenshot of the Tick Prevention App.
Source: Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW)
 

The Android and iOS app provides information about the spread of ticks outdoors and tells you exactly what to do if you are bitten by a tick.

Warning and information section

The Tick Prevention App comprises a warning and information section and explains exactly what you should do if you are bitten by a tick. The app automatically reminds users about any tick bites through entries in the tick diary and asks users whether any of the bites on their body are showing any potential indications of Lyme disease. Should a tick-borne disease be suspected, the user is advised to contact a doctor.

The warning function indicates the current tick risk for a particular area. Using a five-tier scale of the risk of being bitten by a tick, the dynamic warning system shows users the tick risk for a given area. To calculate the level of risk, the app uses information about the location, current climate data and the nature of the ground surface as an indicator of the quality of the tick's habitat. Combining and weighting these factors produces the current risk of being bitten by a tick in a particular location.

The continuously updated tick risk map pinpoints the current risk areas for tick bites. The app also uses a map provided by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health FOPH to indicate areas where a TBE vaccination is recommended.

The information section tells users how to protect themselves from ticks while outdoors. It answers such questions as: how do I remove a tick quickly and correctly? How does the climate influence the incidence of ticks? Does the vaccine combat all tick-borne diseases?

The Tick Prevention App also helps users to monitor their own health following a tick bite thanks to the tick diary and advises them to visit a doctor should any of the specific symptoms of Lyme disease be suspected. All data provided by users are anonymous and can be seen by other users on the risk map.

Why this app?

Over the past few years, the FOPH has recorded 20,000 visits to a doctor as a result of a tick bite and approximately 10,000 cases of Lyme disease. The number of tick-borne diseases are on the rise and generate enormous costs. As people are spending more time in tick-risk areas and ticks are spreading as a result of global warming, this trend is growing. This app can help to prevent tick bites and recognise Lyme borreliosis symptoms early. The warning function and recommended precautions enable users to take steps to protect themselves from ticks so that they may even avoid being bitten in the first place.

The Tick Prevention App was developed with specialist support from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the Swiss National Reference Centre for Tick-Borne Diseases and the Swiss League for Patients with Tick-Borne Diseases. The publisher is the ZHAW Phytomedicine research group/A&K Strategy GmbH. The app is currently available in English, French and German.

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Contact

  • Werner Tischhauser
    ZHAW Life Sciences und Facility Management
    Grüental
    8820 Wädenswil
    Tel.: +41 (0) 58 934 56 77
    E-Mail:werner.tischhauser @ zhaw.ch

  • Prof. Dr. Jürg Grunder
    ZHAW Life Sciences und Facility Management
    Grüental
    8820 Wädenswil
    Tel.: +41 (0) 58 934 55 89
    E-Mail: juerg.grunder @ zhaw.ch

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