A research team at the Yale School of Public Health has developed the first smartphone app for Lyme disease.  Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium, which spreads to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.

Using Global Position System, the application provides information regarding the abundance of infected ticks at the location of the user and a list of precautions one should employ to help avoid tick-bites. If bitten by a tick, the list gives step-by-step instructions and a 40-second video on how to remove the tick.

The iPhone app for Lyme disease became available on the Apple iTunes store on April 30 for $1.99. Durland Fish, professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health at Yale University, said the price is reasonable considering the amount of money invested to gather the data.

Dr. Fish and his team combined research data and developed the iPhone app for Lyme disease in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the American Lyme Disease Foundation. Ticks transmit Lyme disease during certain life stages.

App users can determine each stage by looking at the tick identification chart and life-size pictures of ticks. The app also indicates how long the tick has been attached to the skin since the probability of transmission increases with the time it’s been attached, according to Dr. Fish. If medical attention is needed, the app provides directions to the nearest doctor. The iPhone app makes Lyme disease research practical for public use, which would otherwise go in the scientific literature without receiving much public attention.

“We did a lot of research on this topic and decided to put it together for the public,” said Dr. Fish.

Fish explained his research to a group of science communicators during the annual Council for the Advancement of Science Writing meeting. Dr. Fish said Lyme disease does not occur everywhere in the country, which was evident by the U.S. Lyme disease risk map in his lab.

For those who intend to travel within the U.S., a georeferenced map on the app provides the distribution of tick species that cause Lyme disease.

“This is the first health application for smartphones that could have an immediate impact on a major disease,” said Dr. Fish in a press release.