Drexel researchers ask people to send them ticks dead or alive

The threat ticks pose can be severe and possibly fatal. A group of Drexel researchers are trying to change that but they need your help.

FOX 29's Joyce Evans has the story of one family's tragedy and the hope for a scientific discovery.

"I mean in 6 days he went from just being sick to passing away. We were in shock."

A healthy and very active husband and father of two Jeff Naticchia, of Newtown, Bucks County, cut down right before his family's eyes.

"Fever, sweats, jaundice," his wife, Crissy, told FOX 29.

He went into organ failure and was on life support. He didn't make to see his daughter off to college or his son enter high school.

Crissy Naticchia says Jeff had been bitten by a lot of ticks in his lifetime some right in the backyard. However, this one tick apparently carried a parasite called babesia. It raged throughout his body before it was diagnosed.

"Everybody knows about Lyme disease, what to look for, but nobody knows about this," Crissy said.

"If you know what you're looking for you can move faster. People can get the drug treatments that they need. They can get better," Drexel student researcher Kayla Socarras said.

Drexel researchers are developing that technology now. Drexel Microbiology and Immunology researchers are asking people all over the country to send them ticks-- all colors, all sizes, dead or alive.

"What we're trying to figure out here is what kind of bacteria, virus or parasites are inside these ticks."

What they've found so far?

"Up to 60 different bacteria. Yeah, one of our ticks we found 60 different --- just bacteria," Dr. Krol said.

He says you may react to more than one bacterium.

"We know ticks can cause about 20 different diseases," he said.

Making earlier detection even more crucial.

"It's not easy to treat a single infection but if you have co-infections it's even harder."

While scientists do their work Crissy is spreading the word of the nightmare her family suffers.

Sent ticks to the following:

Carol Hope

Center for Advanced Microbial Processing Drexel University

New College Building

245 N. 15th St, Rm 17113

Philadelphia, PA 19101

Place tick(s) in a small ZiplocTM bag with a moist cotton ball, paper towel or blade of grass b. a small vial with 70% isopropyl alcohol