Citizen Science Program Set up by Researchers in Texas
Chagas disease is caused by a parasitic protozoan and transmitted via an insect known as the “kissing bug.” Due to the success of research, Texas A & M University has set up a citizen science program in order to gain insight into the distribution and infection prevalence of “kissing bugs.”
After word spread on the program, citizens were encouraged to submit specimens (dead or alive) at the same time they were cautioned that they should not touch the insects with their bare hands.
All submitted samples were set to a laboratory to be examined and then identified by species, measured, sexed and dissected. Of the submitted samples, 25% were found in dog kennels, 19% in patios or porches and 11% inside homes. In total 375 citizens submitted samples. Of the 694 insects, 63% were found infected.
This program will create a unique set of samples of insects. The insects found will likely only be found in places that citizens have visited. The program will strengthen relationships between the researchers, health departments, disease control centers, clinical vets and the public and will be a great resource for public information regarding the local illness
Would you get involved with this science program?