We test ticks every day.
Ticks submitted to the lab are processed as soon as we get them. We strive to send results within 5 business days after receiving the specimen. Results are sent by email from the Laboratory of Medical Zoology.
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
Fall 2013 - This the start of the ADULT TICK SEASON. We will see adult ticks from now through the spring: anytime people (and dogs) are out in the brush and the ticks are not covered with snow.
The UMass Laboratory for Medical Zoology (LMZ), in cooperation with UMass Extenion, assesses submitted ticks to identify them and to determine whether or not they carry the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease and other tick-borne pathogens. The fee for identification and Lyme disease is $40 per tick. Additional fees are charged for other pathogens.
We offer 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 or at the LMZ website (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.
Ticks can be submitted in one of two ways:
1. You can submit your contact information on-line and use a credit card. Then mail the tick as directed. To do so, go to:
http://www.tickdiseases.org and click on the red TEST A TICK button.
2. You can download a submission form and and mail the tick with a check or money order. Direction are on the form at:
For specific information, contact:
Dr. Craig Hollingsworth, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ticks can also be dropped off in person (see below).
What is the turn-around time for diagnostic results?
We strive to provide results in 5 business days after receipt of the specimen. 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.
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.
How accurate is the testing process?
What the Massachusetts Department of Public Health says about 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
PLEASE do not drop off ticks at the Laboratory of Medical Zoology: this causes the technician to stop processing ticks, delaying the results of everyone's analyses.
Ticks can be dropped off at my office, 201 Agricultural Engineering Building.
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 in the bin that says "Please deposit ticks here" or you can look for me. My office is 201 at the end of the hall.
I submit ticks to the lab each day.
Is Lyme disease (other tick-borne pathogen) present in my town?
If you live in New York-New England, the answer is likely to be "Yes," however you can now see the actual tick testing data from the Laboratory of Medical Zoology. The database includes over 4000 ticks and can be searched for different pathogens by location and date. Click this link to access the LMZ's: Tick-Borne Disease Passive Suveillance Data Base.