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Frequently Asked Questions

Anyone spending time outdoors--in the garden, on the trail, or around the playing field--should be aware of the risk of exposure to ticks and tick-borne disease. But that risk should not be debilitating. Think of it as another precaution like wearing sunscreen to protect from sun. With proper precaution, risk of tick bite exposures can be kept in proper perspective. Don't let fear of ticks keep you from enjoying outdoor activities. Visit TickEncounter.org to learn about ways to protect yourself. If you do get bitten by a tick, don't despair. Pull the tick off as soon as you find it using a pair of fine forceps. Not all ticks are infected, so consider having your tick tested to determine if it represents a risk to you. And as always, see your healthcare provider if you experience signs of illness.

Our Standard DNA package includes tests for the most common tick pathogen. As part of the this Standard Package we identify the tick, photograph it (dorsal and ventral), assess its feeding condition and provide test results for presence of seven major pathogens; including Borrelia (Lyme disease), Anaplasma (Anaplasmosis) and Babesia (Babesiosis). The tests applied will depend upon the species of tick you send us. You don't need to know what species of tick you have, we’ll make that determination once we receive your tick. We also offer a Standard DNA+RNA test package that includes tests for viruses such as Powassan and Heartland viruses.

View our menu of tests.

Some towns/counties pay part of TickReport fee and so the cost to you will be reduced when you order your TickReport. To find out if you town/county is one of our testing partners, click the “Test a Tick” button on TickReport.com. You'll be asked to provide your name, address and email. We use this information to determine whether you reside in a town with a subsidy program. There is no obligation to complete the order and we never use your contact information for anything other than your TickReport. If you prefer, you can always contact us and we'll look up your eligibility. If you are in a subsidized town/county, be sure to let your local health agencies know that you value this service that they provide with their limited resources.

The Laboratory of Medical Zoology is a not-for-profit, service lab at the University of Massachusetts. If it were possible, we’d provide the service at no cost, but the reality is that we must recover costs for personnel, equipment and supplies by offering the service for a fee. In some cases, state, local or private agencies pre-pay for testing and allow residents to use these pre-paid credits to test their ticks. A core mission of the Laboratory of Medical Zoology is to make this valuable public service available to the greatest number of people at the very lowest cost possible.

To learn more about ticks and tick-borne disease, please visit our partners at the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter.org. Local and state health agencies as well as the CDC also provide online information about ticks and how to protect yourself. Massachusetts residents may find the Mass DPH website particularly useful. Its important to always remember that your healthcare provider is the only person that can give you medical advice or prescribe treatment and TickReport should never be misinterpreted as a substitute for medical diagnosis.

TickReport is not a substitute for medical consultation or diagnosis, but your TickReport does provide information about risk to you individually and when we look at all the ticks we collect, we can also provide valuable information to the rest of the world. After being bitten by a tick, many people will want to see a healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can only guess whether your tick is a risk based on estimates of how long it has fed and what kind of tick it is. S/he may decide to prescribe an antibiotic based just on your having been bitten. Blood test results will not be possible for weeks after your tick bite. But TickReport can take part of the guesswork out of the visit. Within three business days of receiving your tick (often in the same day), we can give you highly accurate information about what is inside your tick to help make better-informed decisions about protecting yourself from illnesses.

Previous studies of tick disease looked either at human disease cases or ticks captured in the field. Both kinds of studies are important, but they don’t track the missing link between people and infected ticks. This is valuable information for assessing location and timing of disease risk. And because we’re a not-for-profit public institution with a mission to inform the public about the risk of tick-borne disease, we collect and post information to the general public about where people are getting bitten by ticks, when those bites occur, and what pathogens are involved in those bites. This information is of great value to the general public as well as agencies trying to track tick-borne diseases.

To learn more about the public database, see our recent publication in Zoonotic and Vector-borne Diseases reporting the first six years of this program (2006-2012). We’ve tested over 20,000 ticks to date and each of these tick encounters is a valuable data point toward understanding tick-borne diseases.

We are not aware of any insurance that covers costs of a tick test. TickReport tests assess risk of exposure, and should not be interpreted as medical diagnosis. We commonly compare a tick test to testing your home for dangerous exposures such as radon or keeping a carbon monoxide alarm in your home. Like those examples, our tests are not intended to diagnose disease but to measure risks and provide you accurate information to make informed decisions.

Absolutely. Your personal contact information is only used to send your results. Generic information like your tick bite are included in our passive surveillance, but there is no link with personal identity. For example, we may report the number of ticks found on adults aged 21-45 in a given town, but no details of those adults are ever shared. We report these anonymous data is to let other people learn more about risks.