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College students' knowledge of ticks in Oklahoma: Assessment and insights

Knowlton, Elise
Talley, Justin L.
Noden, Bruce H.
Hoback, William Wyatt
Ticks (Arachnida: Acari) are common in Oklahoma and may transmit tick-borne diseases (TBDs) to people. Due to the difficulty in reducing tick populations, awareness of tick bite prevention, proper tick removal, and knowledge of when to seek medical treatment are critical. However, outreach and extension programs are hampered by a lack of knowledge of what community members know about ticks. To address this limitation, we surveyed college students enrolled in three nonmajor Entomology courses at Oklahoma State University in 2018. Of the 483 students invited to take a survey, 224 (46.4%) students took both surveys. Pre-survey responses indicated lower levels of knowledge of tick biology compared to post-survey responses. For both pre- and post-survey respondents, "ticks can jump" and "ticks reside up in trees" received the fewest correct responses. A majority of survey respondents considered Lyme disease to be the predominant TBD in Oklahoma, although it is not established in Oklahoma. Supplemental education overcame these knowledge gaps, with the exception of knowledge of Lyme disease which was still considered to be the predominant TBD in the post-survey. Our results can be used to develop assessment tools to improve extension programs and enhance protection from TBDs.