One Health Microbial Quest!

Have you ever been curious if you share germs
with your pets?

Can the diseases that make us sick
make animals sick, too?

Do the interactions we have with animals
affect the germs they have?

Registration is currently CLOSED for the One Health Microbial Quest project. If you have questions, email our team at citizen-science@tgen.org.


Join us on a quest to help scientists answer these questions. TGen North and the Arizona Department of Health Services are launching a FREE project to understand what type of germs (we call them microbes) can pass between people and the animals they interact with.

We are going to look for these microbes in the animal’s poop! 💩


Photo by Kyle Fitzgerald (New York Times)

This is a citizen science project,
which means YOU get to help scientists collect the data.

This easy and fun project will help us learn more about One Health.

One Health is all about the health of people, animals, and the shared environment they live in. One Health involves teamwork from everyone who cares about healthy animals and a healthy environment. One Health is about clean water and air, safe food sources, and preventing people and animals from getting sick.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is citizen science?

Citizen science, also known as community science, engages the public to help answer scientific questions. Citizen science is a well-recognized and highly successful method of surveillance. Citizen science helps to improve the scientific community’s capacity and increase the public’s understanding of science.

What is the One Health Microbial Quest?

The One Health Microbial Quest is a fun, easy, and FREE citizen science surveillance project where YOU get to help scientists collect data. The project is aimed at understanding what type of microbes (such as bacteria and viruses) are shared between people and the animals we interact with, such as pets and livestock, or the animals around us, including wildlife.

What type of microbes are you screening for in this project?

We will be testing animal poop samples for the presence of different viruses, including those that cause respiratory illnesses (such as COVID-19) and enteroviruses (such as the one that causes hand-foot-and-mouth disease).

What type of samples are being collected?

We are interested in obtaining fresh or semi-fresh poop samples (less than 2 days old) from animals, including pets, livestock, and even wildlife that may be near your home. These samples will be screened for microbes in our Flagstaff laboratory.

I am interested in participating; how do I get started?

Thanks for your interest in participating in the quest! Click here to register as a participant. You will receive collection kits in the mail and detailed instructions on how to collect and submit samples. Our team can also coordinate delivery or pick-up of kits for science educators. It is that easy!

What information will you be collecting along with the poop sample(s)?

We will be asking interested participants to answer a few brief questions. These include date of collection, type of animal the sample was collected from, city/county, and if anyone in contact with the animal had experienced recent illness. If you are interested in receiving project updates, responding to additional questions if applicable, and receiving results on the sample(s) submitted, you will also be able to provide contact information (e.g., an email address). No personal identification information on you or your animals will be released.

I have multiple pets/animals; can I submit more than one poop sample?

Yes, you can submit more than one sample if you have interactions with multiple animals, (e.g., have a cat and a dog, or have multiple horses). Please request the number of kits (up to 3 per participant) that you will need. You will need ONE kit for each animal. We also ask that you answer the questions for each individual animal’s sample.

I received my kit! How do I collect the poop?

Great news! In your kit, there are instructions on how to collect the poop sample and a sample collection tube. The tube has a stabilizing agent (clear liquid) that will make the sample safe and stable for transport. The cap on the tube has a spatula/scooper to make the poop easier to collect. Wash your hands before you collect the sample and wear the gloves provided in your kit. Follow the instructions on how much poop to collect (~1ml or 1g). Make sure you screw the cap on tightly after collection, use the parafilm wax strip to secure the cap, and place the barcode provided in the kit on the tube. Wash your hands after collecting the sample and complete the brief printed questionnaire provided in your kit.

I collected the poop! How do I send the sample(s) to the laboratory?

Thank you for collecting the sample(s)! In your kit, you should have received extra Ziplock bags, a small shipping box, and a stamped envelope that you can use to return the sample collection tube(s). Ensure the parafilm wax strip is secured around the cap of the tube and place the tube in the quart size Ziplock bag with the white absorbent sheet. Please make sure you that have labeled your sample collection tube with the provided barcode and completed paper questionnaire prior to sending in your sample(s).

How will the results of the project be shared? Will results for the sample(s) I submitted be returned to me?

We recognize that participants may be very interested in learning the results of the sample(s) submitted. If you provide contact information on the questionnaire, we will be able to share some results directly with participants. This will include if the virus that causes COVID-19 was identified in the animal samples. All findings from the project in summary form will be also shared on our website in late 2022.

What if the animal poop sample I submitted tests positive for the virus that causes COVID-19?

There are lots of microbes that can be shared between people and animals, most of which do not cause harm. So, don’t be alarmed. If you, a person in your household, or an animal you interact with shows any signs of illness, we recommend you consult with a human doctor or veterinarian. And remember – practicing proper hand hygiene is always a good idea!

What are TGen and ADHS hoping to learn from this project?

Millions of human-animal interactions occur daily within the household or in a work environment (e.g., pet stores, petting zoos, farms). With that connection comes the potential for intimate interactions and the exchange of microbes that can be found on the skin, and in the respiratory and intestinal tracts. We hope to gain a better understanding of the extent of microbial sharing between humans and animals and help improve public health guidance of proper hygiene practices and education.

What if I have more questions?

You can email us at citizen-science@tgen.org.

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