Be Tick Aware: Prevention Tips and Testing Resources for You

June 26, 2020 — Source: GLA Be Tick Aware Program

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Summer is here and it may be a good time to think about how to deal with ticks, a common problem with pets and kids....and adults! After safely removing the tick, one of the most important steps is to test the tick. Knowing the species and what disease(s) the tick is carrying will help with your diagnosis. Here is a list of tick testing labs in the U.S. and a complete Be Tick AWARE resources.

 

TICK TESTING LABORATORIES LIST

If you find a tick, it is important to send it to a tick testing lab or your local health department to test for pathogens. Learning more about the tick and potential pathogens it is carrying may aid in your diagnosis. Submitting your tick for testing is vital to help researchers and others better understand our overall risk of exposure to a tick-borne disease, species of ticks, and the number of ticks in regions across the country.

 

TickReport at UMASS Amherst

National lab order a comprehensive TickReport™ and learn what disease causing microbes the tick may be carrying, including pathogens that cause Lyme disease.
Cost: Check lab for fees

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) New Haven, CT

Tick testing for residents of Connecticut. Visit CAES website to find your local health department.
Cost: Free

Imugen Norwood, MA

National lab provides testing services for the detection of B. burgdorferi (Lyme Disease spirochete) and B. microti (Babesia parasite) by PCR. This testing is performed on deer ticks only.
Cost: Check lab for fees

University of Maine Cooperative Orono, ME

Tick testing for residents of Maine only
Cost: Free

New Jersey Laboratories Tick Testing New Brunswick, NJ

National lab tests multiple tick species and pathogens
Cost: Check lab for fees

UCONN Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory Storrs, CT

National lab tests multiple tick species and pathogens
Cost: Check lab for fees

Ticknology Fort Collins, CO

National lab provides tick testing services
Cost: Check lab for fees

TickEncounter (University of Rhode Island)

Service for tick identification only.

Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS)

For residents of Illinois only. Send in ticks for free tick identification and to support tick research in Illinois. For instructions on mailing ticks, please contact Holly Tuten at htuten@illinois.edu. Click on the headline above to learn more about the INHS Medical Entomology program.
Cost: Free (Illinois residents only)


Click here to access GLA’s Be Tick AWARE tick bite prevention resourcesbe tick aware_horizontal logo

 

 

BE TICK AWARE TICK BITE PREVENTION PROGRAM

be tick aware_horizontal logoTick bite prevention is critical. Ticks are more active than ever before, and in more areas than ever before. To prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses it’s crucial to Be Tick AWARE™. Follow these easy steps to protect yourself, family, and pets from ticks.

BE TICK AWARE

Practicing good tick bite prevention habits is the best way to prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Good habits range from wearing appropriate clothing, where you walk, and how often you check for ticks. Simply, it’s important to Be Tick AWARE.

5 easy steps to remember are:
  • be tick awareAVOID areas where ticks live. Ticks thrive in places like wood piles, leaf litter, long grass, beach grass, bushy areas, stone walls, and perimeters where the lawn meets the woods.
  • WEAR light-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily; long-sleeved shirt tucked in at the waist, long pants tucked into high socks, closed-toe shoes, and a hat with your hair tucked in, if possible. Do not walk in the grass barefoot or in open sandals, even if it’s a shortcut.
  • APPLY EPA-approved tick repellent (such as DEET or picaridin) and insecticide (such as permethrin) to skin, clothing, and shoes as directed. Watch video on how to properly apply repellent.
  • REMOVE clothing upon entering the home; toss into the dryer at high temperature for 10-15 minutes to kill live ticks. Putting them in the washer, however, will not.
  • EXAMINE yourself and your pets for ticks daily. Feel for bumps paying close attention to the back of knees, groin, armpits, in and behind the ears, belly button, and scalp. Check everywhere – ticks love to hide

WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A TICK ATTACHED

As hard as it may seem, don’t panic. Here are 5 steps to follow if you find a tick attached to you, or someone you know. Click here for a printable info sheet.

STEP 1. Remove the tick

Remove the tick with a tick removal tool or tweezers. Get as close to the skin as possible, being careful to get the head – pull the tick straight up – immediately clean the site of the bite with and antiseptic or soap.

DO! Save the tick in a sealable bag or vial with date of removalDO NOT! Twist or agitate the tick - Touch the tick - Drown the tick in oil or use petroleum to remove, it could spread any pathogens

Watch tick removal video.

STEP 2. Send the tick in for testing

Testing the tick is important to identify its species and diseases it’s carrying. This information may aid in your diagnosis. It will also help researchers better understand tick habitats and patterns. Ask the lab to test the tick for Lyme disease and other tick-borne pathogens. Request that your lab test for Lyme disease and other tick-borne pathogens (co-infections).

See list of tick testing labs.

STEP 3: Monitor your bite site closely
  1. Keep a close eye on your bite site and document any changes.
  2. Take a picture of the site of the bite as soon as possible. If you see any changes, take additional pictures.
  3. Draw a circle around the bite to easily track a rash that may start from the bite. Watch the site and other parts of your body to see if a rash develops for about a week or more. Any changes can mean a reaction to a pathogen from a tick.

It’s important to note that while the bulls-eye rash is most associated with Lyme disease, many people do not develop a rash or the appearance of the rash is not a bulls-eye. If you do develop a bulls-eye, CDC guidelines indicate this as a positive diagnosis for Lyme disease, and treatment should be started immediately.

STEP 4: Consult with your doctor

AS SOON AS YOU EXPERIENCE ANY SYMPTOMS, see a doctor. A symptom could be a reaction or rash at the bite site, fatigue, brain fog, or any flu-like symptom. Note: a bulls-eye rash serves as an official Lyme disease diagnosis per the CDC. At the first signs of symptoms, 21 days of antibiotic treatment doxycycline are recommended immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment are key!

It’s important to note that while the bulls-eye rash is most associated with Lyme disease, many patients do not develop a rash or the appearance of the rash is not a bulls-eye.

Step 5: Trust your symptoms, not the test

Current Lyme diagnostics are inaccurate about 1/2 the time! It’s important to remember that if your doctor says your test came back negative, but you are feeling symptomatic, you may still have Lyme disease. Trust your symptoms, not the test!

If you need help connecting with a Lyme treating physician, GLA can help.


BE TICK AWARE RESOURCES

Help us share the message of tick bite prevention! Please use and share our Be Tick AWARE resources with your communities, libraries, schools, and social networks.

VIDEOS
How to Be Tick AWARE
How to Properly Apply Repellent

INFORMATION SHEETS
Check 4 Ticks poster
Be Tick AWARE poster
How to Identify Ticks
5 Steps: What to Do When You Find a Tick Attached

EDUCATION MATERIALS
Interactive curriculum for grades K – 12
Free printables for the classroom

FLYERS
Be Tick AWARE awareness flyers to share