Tick Dragging: Using a Drone to Reduce Surveyor Exposure
Pulling a cloth over the ground remains the primary method for conducting a tick surveillance survey. A person physically walking in the collection zone pulling a flannel cloth creates an opportunity for a human–tick encounter. Walking ahead of the drag cloth also disrupts the area to be sampled and increases the opportunity for a human–tick encounter. In order to reduce this potential interaction, a remotely piloted vehicle (drone) was used to pull the flannel cloth, which allows the drag cloth to be the first contact in the swath to be sampled. A small camera-equipped drone used to replace the human in dragging the cloth was found to be powerful enough to pull a drag-cloth over grassy or slightly brushy terrain. The cloth-to-surface contact was found to be similar enough to the standard dragging practice to result in similar numbers, types, and ages of ticks collected. Statistical analysis using chi-square and paired t-tests determined there was no difference in drag methods (χ2 = 1.9756, p = .37; t = 1.31, p = .22). Further tests are needed to confirm this study and identify other potential differences in human and drone tick dragging surveillance.
Speaker / Author:
Tracy L. Zontek, PhD, CIH, CSP, University of Tampa
Burton R. Ogle, PhD, CIH, CSP, Western Carolina University
Robyn Hoover, Western Carolina University
John T. Jankovic, MSPH, CIH, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences
Scott Hollenbeck, MSPH, CIH, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences