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Choctaw Nation partners with OSU, CDC to fight tick-borne disease in Southeastern Oklahoma

Erik Karits

Choctaw Nation wants Southeastern Oklahomans to keep their eyes peeled for ticks on their reservation.

Choctaw Nation is partnering with Oklahoma State University and the Centers for Disease Conrol and Prevention (CDC) to collect tick samples from 10 counties to identify community hotspots for tick-borne disease.

Tick-borne diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), Lyme disease and babesiosis, can have serious health implications and the surveillance project aims to identify and manage the risk factors effectively. That's why they want people to keep an eye out.

"The diseases that ticks can cause are serious and progress quickly throughout the body," says Rikki LaRoche, director of public health for the Choctaw Nation. "Educating our communities about prevention and signs to watch for is crucial to keeping everyone living on the Choctaw Nation Reservation safe and healthy."

Between 2020 and 2023, more than 60 patients were diagnoses with RMSF at Choctaw Nation Health facilities.

The project will last at least two years, focusing on tick analysis across ten counties.

The public can help the project track the insects by filling out an online survey.

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Cheyenne Leach is KOSU's news intern.
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