We test ticks every week.
We open the mail every Tuesday and begin analyzing ticks on Tuesday afternoon. Results are sent out at the end of the week.
We can now test for 10 different tick diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (carried by American dog ticks) and Borrelia miyamotoi, a relative of Lyme disease recently found in the U.S. See the link below to determine which diseases are most appropriate for testing
SPRING 2013 - As the weather warms up, we are seeing more adult deer ticks that have overwintered. They are not killed by frost or cold. Adults are be active through spring, seeking blood from their hosts. A few nymphs are also appearing
UMass Extension, in cooperation with researchers at UMass Laboratory for Medical Zoology, will assess specimens to determine whether they are black legged ticks (deer ticks), and if so, will determine whether or not they carry the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease. The test can detect the Lyme disease pathogen from a single tick. There is a fee of $40 per sample.
This year, we are offering analysis for up to ten different tick-borne diseases. PLEASE NOTE: not all of these diseases are carried by deer ticks. Refer to our page on Tick-Borne Diseases. Pricing is listed on the SUBMISSION FORM (see below). Ticks that have been tested for one or more pathogens can be tested for additional pathogens at a later date.
The three most common tick-borne disease in the Northeast are:
If you submit a tick and request analysis for a specific disease we will carry out your instructions. If you are unsure of the identity of your tick, you can submit it for identification and Lyme disease analysis and have further analysis conducted the following week or later. We recommend the URI Tick Encounter Identification Chart for preliminary identification of ticks.
To submit a sample, download the submission form and follow the instructions.
Address packages to:
UMass Extension Tick Assessment
Agricultural Engineering Building, 250 Natural Resources Way
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003
Use exact address to ensure delivery.
For specific information, contact:
Dr. Craig Hollingsworth, email@example.com
DR HOLLINGSWORTH WILL GONE FROM MAY 7 through MAY 23 and will be unable to reply to emails. Tick Testing will proceed as normal during this time.
Ticks can also be dropped off in person (see below).
What is the turn-around time for diagnostic results?
Typically, we open tick samples on TUESDAY afternoon and begin processing the ticks that day. So far, we have always been able to send results by the end of that week. Specimens that arrive after TUESDAY are processed the following week. Keep in mind that UMass mail can require one extra day for campus distribution. If you use an overnight service (USPS, UPS or FedEx) ticks are delivered directly to the lab address.
For faster information, you can submit your contact directly to the lab database and receive results as soon as they are available.
While we try to transmit your results to you as soon as possible, there are delays with obtaining the information from the lab and sending out dozens of test results by hand. A new system through the UMass Laboratory of Medical Zoology allows you to access your data and notifies you of your results before the results reach UMass Extension. To use this service go to:
http://www.tickdiseases.org and click on the TEST A TICK button.
Is your tick good enough?
A number of people have called to ask if their ticks can be analyzed. The answer is almost always "YES." We have successfully processed broken and torn, water-soaked, dried-up and alcohol-bathed ticks. A few extra days in the mailbox will not affect the results. We prefer that you do NOT encase your tick in tape, but if the deed has been done we can deal with it,. The best samples are fresh ticks that have been treated as directed on the sample submission form. If we cannot process your tick, we will refund your fee.
About the diagnostic tests
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing detects the genetic material (DNA) of the Lyme disease bacteria and other pathogens. If a tick contains the specific pathogen, the test will give a positive result. If the tick does not contain the pathogen, we will receive a negative result. The test will NOT indicate whether the tick has transmitted the disease. This depends on the amount of pathogen it is carrying and how long it has fed. A negative result however should assure individual that disease transmission from a particular tick is not expected.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health offers the following advice with regard to tick test results.
- Tests performed on the ticks are not perfect and they do not test for all infections ticks may be carrying. Therefore, even with a negative result, people should still monitor themselves for the appearance of rash, fever or other unusual symptoms and immediately seek the advice of a health care provider should any symptoms occur.
- If someone has been infected by a tick bite, symptoms may begin to occur even before the results of tick testing are available. People should not to wait for tick testing results before seeking medical advice should any symptoms develop.
- A positive test on a tick is not an automatic indication that treatment is needed. A positive test indicates that the tick was infected but not that the tick was successful in spreading the infection to the person bitten. The longer a tick is attached to you, the greater the chance that it will spread infection. Discuss any positive test results with your health care provider.
Ticks can be dropped off in person: Directions
Ticks can be dropped off at my office, 201 Agricultural Engineering Building.
Ticks received by 2 pm on Tuesday will be tested that week.
On the UMass Amherst campus, locate the Mullins Center.
On the map http://www.umass.edu/visitorsctr/downloads/campusmap.pdf ,
it is located on the lines for A-B and 3-4
There is a traffic light in front of the Mullins Center: turn there to go up the hill toward the Parking Garage.
On your left, you will pass the Physical Plant Complex, then the Textbook Annex.
Immediately after the Textbook Annex is a road, turn left then immediately turn right into the small parking lot. Park and leave your flashers on. You have reached the Agricultural Engineering Building. Walk down the road to the middle of the building, enter the foyer and go upstairs. Enter 209. You may leave your sample on the counter or you can look for me. My office is 201 at the end of the hall.