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.
The standard and most common test of deer ticks is $50. For this, we identify the tick, photograph it (dorsal and ventral), assess its feeding condition and provide test results for presence of Borrelia (Lyme disease), Anaplasma (Anaplasmosis) and Babesia (Babesiosis). Other costs vary depending on the choice of tests. Our goal is to provide the lowest price we can and keep the lab functional and providing outstanding service.
The Laboratory of Medical Zoology is a not-for-profit, service lab at the University of Massachusetts. If we could, we’d provide the service at no cost, but the reality is that we must recover costs for personnel, equipment and supplies by charging for the service. 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.
We strongly encourage people to visit our partners at the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter.org web page. Local and state health agencies as well as the CDC also provide online information about ticks and how to protect yourself. But its important to always remember that ultimately your doctor is the only person that should give you medical advice or treatment.
While its not a substitute for medical consultation or diagnosis, tick testing does provide information about risk to individuals and populations. Because we’re a not-for-profit, public institution, we make the test results available to the public. Individual identity (name, address, etc.) is always kept confidential, but the information about where the tick was found and what pathogens is carried is of great value to the public and agencies trying to track tick-borne disease.diseases.
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. By testing ticks that have been on people, we can determine who is getting bit, when they are getting bit, and what pathogens they are exposed to. This is valuable information for assessing location and timing of risk.
We are not aware of any insurance that covers costs of tick test. Tick 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. Such tests are not intended to diagnose disease but to measure risks of exposure and use that information to act accordingly.
Absolutely. Your personal contact information is only use to send you results. Some generic information about you and 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. The purpose of reporting the aggregate data is to let other people learn about risks