Scientists from the UP Faculty of Science participated in the development of a new mobile app called ‘Klíšťapka’ (i.e. Tick-app), which serves as a new tool for obtaining information on the ever-increasing number of ticks and for the prevention of possible diseases transmitted by these parasites.
The application provides information on the occurrence of ticks in forest stands according to the data of the Forest Management Institute (FMI) of the Czech Republic and the associated risk of Lyme borreliosis infection. The application was developed by scientists from the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences and the Faculty of Economics and Management of the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (CZU) in cooperation with the Forests of the Czech Republic, the National Institute of Public Health, the Palacký University Faculty of Science, the Czech Forestry Society and the Forestry and Game Management Research Institute.
“The Tick-app is based on an analysis of 28,276 ticks from forests across the Czech Republic in 2021 and 2022 and includes data on species composition of the stand, habitat, tick dynamics throughout the year and the weather. Due to the large amount of data, only forest stands according to the FMI with tick occurrence in a given location are shown on the map,” said the head of the scientific team and principal investigator of the project, Zdeněk Vacek from the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences at CZU.
“In addition to data on the current tick activity in forest stands, the application also provides new information on tick borreliosis infestation in a given location. This prediction is based on testing of captured ticks at the National Reference Laboratory for Lyme Borreliosis of the National Institute of Public Health. In the coming years, we will work to expand the data to include other tick-borne infections, as well as analysis of ticks from city parks. We can therefore promise that the Tick-app will be further developed and enriched in other projects, such as ‘Ticks in the City’, in cooperation with CZU,” said project co-investigator Kateřina Kybicová from the National Institute of Public Health.
The main goal of the project was to process and interpret data from previous research for the public and to create an ICT tool for general use that will predict the number of ticks and the possibility of Lyme borreliosis infection on the basis of forest stands classification, habitats, climate data and other information, based on mathematical models and statistical survey results. “Interestingly, the mathematical model on which the application is based also takes into account the structure of the landscape in the immediate vicinity of the investigated locations. The mosaic nature of the landscape and the number of marginal communities play a fundamental role in the occurrence of important tick hosts (e.g. small rodents), which affects the overall tick abundance and thus the risk of infection,” added project co-investigator Tomáš Václavík from the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences at the UP Faculty of Science.
The project is therefore a “Citizen Science” application – science for the general public. The app also contains a “Wiki” information component, which focuses on practical measures against the spread of ticks and their zoonotic diseases. Overall, it contains a lot of useful information about tick species, tick myths, first aid and, of course, prevention. Users will thus have all the information on the subject in a comprehensive overview.
This new application, created with the support of the Grant Service of the national enterprise Forests of the Czech Republic, is freely available to all users of Android mobile devices and can be downloaded from Google Play.