Horses and Ticks – What to Do After a Bite


Guest post by the National Equine Tick Survey.

We’ve all been there; after spending some time outside in the woods or tall grass, we find a tiny, blood-sucking visitor with eight little legs and a swift bite.

It’s a tick!

News segments and PSAs about tick prevention are common, but mostly focus on humans and dogs, leaving out our equine companions.

Personally, I did not really think much about ticks on horses until recently, and can really only remember ever finding one tick on a horse in all my years of horse ownership.

That being said, the number of ticks is on the rise, so we’re seeing more ticks in more places than ever.

Horse Ticks

Those ticks can have a huge impact on horse health regardless of geographic location, and the lack of highly effective, persistent tick prevention products specifically for horses leave them vulnerable.

Horses can become infected with bacteria that cause diseases such as Lyme disease and anaplasmosis from tick bites just like people can.

Researchers at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine are pushing for a solution. The National Equine Tick Survey (NETS) is an initiative to collect data from ticks found on horses across the nation.

Quite a bit is understood about ticks found on people and smaller pets, but not much is known about distribution, potential risks, or preventative measures for ticks on horses. The NETS team wants to change that.

With the help of our volunteer study contributors, we collect ticks from horses, identify them by species, and test them for some of the most common tick-borne diseases in horses.

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This data, compared to the demographic data from the infested horses, will create a database of knowledge for future work.

To date, we’ve collected 1110 ticks from 21 states, highlighting the widespread problem of ticks on horses.

Interested in helping out? If you find ticks on your horses, the NETS team wants them!

To submit a tick, safely remove it from the horse using tweezers, drop it in a sealable bag, and download a submission form from our website.

(You can find more removal tips here)

Ticks can be mailed to us at the address below.

For every submission, we will email you with details about the ticks you sent in, including short information sheets about the specific tick species you found on your horse.

It’s submissions like these that keep this study moving forward!

As much as our focus is on horses, and how to keep them healthy and comfortable, the NETS vision reaches further than that. We are passionate about intertwining human and animal health.

By studying equine ticks, we hope to help reduce tick-borne diseases in horses, people, dogs, cats, and your other pets so you can spend quality time with your furry friend.

Though humans cannot contract tick-borne diseases directly from an infected animal, we know that many horse owners spend significant amount of time with their animals, which means everyone is at risk of exposure. In other words, the same ticks biting your horses could be biting you, too!

Our team members also care about public outreach and education. The NETS project is an example of citizen science- the reliance of a research project on data collected from the general public. The information processed and distributed by the National Equine Tick Survey was gathered by the people, for the people.

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When you routinely inspect your horse for ticks and submit the ones you find, you are contributing to the scientific community and ensuring the future health of your animals and loved ones, which is, ultimately, what this initiative is all about.

You can find more information about the National Equine Tick Survey, along with instructions on how to submit ticks, at our website, https://www.equineticks.org/, or feel free to email us at EQticks@vet.k-state.edu.

Our mailing address:

National Equine Tick Survey
202 Trotter Hall
1800 Denison Ave.
Manhattan, KS 66506
474-002

We are more than happy to accept ticks from anywhere in the United States, particularly western states, where our submitted tick numbers are lower.

So, if you live on the West coast or in the Rockies, please think of us if you ever see a tick on your horses.

We look forward to receiving your tick submissions!

Horse Ticks - National Equine Tick Survey

– The NETS Team

Jana Gigliotti

Jana is a second year veterinary student at Kansas State’s College of Veterinary Medicine interested in a career in biomedical research. She is spending the summer in the Parasitology Lab here at Kansas State to work exclusively on the National Equine Tick Survey and is very excited to share her passions for veterinary medicine, public health, and science education with all of you.

Brian Herrin, DVM, PhD, DACVM (Parasitology)

Dr. Brian Herrin, a parasitologist, is an assistant professor at KSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the lead investigator for the NETS project. He is passionate about strengthening the human/animal bond through comprehensive parasite control and owner education.


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