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Do you think that you can properly identify a tick from any other similar looking arthropod species, or even a sesame seed? Given the growing rates of Lyme infection among Americans, the average citizen’s ability to recognize tick species is becoming more and more important to public health authorities, who are hoping to curb Lyme infection rates. However, as noble as this desire seems, recent trends show that each year more cases of tick-borne disease are being reported in the United States, and the annual increase in Lyme victims may be too significant to reduce in one single year. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have challenged the American public via Twitter recently. Officials with the agency posted a picture of a tasty looking muffin, but the photo is hiding many sinister elements that may not be recognized by even the sharpest of eyes. The picture contains a caption that asks the viewer if he/she can spot the hidden ticks. The CDC is hoping that this challenging Twitter query will make Americans more aware of their own ignorance concerning ticks and their appearance. Ideally, the photo will cause many people to admit to their lack of knowledge regarding ticks before they take the proper steps to educate themselves concerning the upcoming tick threat that is in store for Americans this summer and in the future. The picture ultimately inspired disgust among many Americans as opposed to curiosity, the desire to seek knowledge and outdoor safety. The photo shows a muffin with what looks to be sesame seeds sprinkled over it. In reality, these little specks are small ticks. If you happened to be the one person who accurately identified the ticks in the picture, then you can probably competently defend yourself from ticks.

Needless to say, but the CDC’s tick-recognition challenge on Twitter did not result in the public response that CDC officials had been hoping for. Of course, Twitter is not exactly the ideal forum for intellectual discourse among the American public, but some reactions to the CDC’s Twitter post have led some to believe that the tick-awareness effort failed.

Are you willing to give the CDC credit for introducing a novel method of assessing an individual’s knowledge of dangerous ticks?