FOX 29 reports on new studies being conducted by Philadelphia’s Drexel University. Researchers in the fields of Microbiology and Immunology are currently asking people around the country to send them ticks of all shapes and sizes, regardless of being alive or dead, as a means of advancing our understanding of the insects and the diseases they carry.
This effort was sparked by the death of a Bucks County father, Jeff Naticchia, as a result of a parasitic infection he received as a result of a tick bite. According to his family, it only took six days from him to go from just being sick to dying from organ failure.
The parasite that infected Naticchia is known as babesia, a creature similar to malaria that infects red blood cells in a host’s body. It is just one of many diseases Drexel’s research team has found by examining ticks since the beginning of their study.
“If you know what you’re looking for you can move faster,” said Drexel student researcher Kayla Socarras. “People can get the drug treatments that they need. They can get better.” So far, the team has been successful in identifying many different ailments ticks can carry. In total, there are about 20 different diseases ticks are able to infect people with on average, though on specimen the group has examined was carrying an unprecedented 60 different strains of bacteria.
For those wishing to contribute to the research by sending in a tick, the team requests people send their specimens to the following location:
Center for Advanced Microbial Processing Drexel University
New College Building
245 N. 15th St, Rm 17113
Philadelphia, PA 19101
Additionally, when mailing samples, live specimens should be kept in a sealed plastic bag with blade of grass or moist paper towel or cotton ball. Dead specimens should be kept in a sealed vial containing a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution to preserve them.