Tick identification and testing services
MDPH does not offer tick identification or tick testing. While testing ticks can provide useful information, there are some notable issues:
- Positive or negative results from a tick or ticks attached to a person do not provide definitive evidence that that you were exposed or not exposed
- Most people diagnosed with a tick-borne disease are not aware that they have been bitten by a tick and the tick you do find may not be the only tick that bit you
- It is possible to be bitten by a tick carrying a disease and not be infected with that disease, depending on many factors, including how long the tick was attached to you
If you choose to have a tick tested, it is important to keep in mind the following:
- Although probably uncommon, laboratory tests performed on the ticks may produce either false positive or false negative results, and depending on the laboratory and service you request, may not be tested for all infections ticks can carry. Therefore, even if you receive a negative result, you should still monitor yourself for the appearance of rash, fever or other signs and symptoms and immediately seek the advice of a health care provider if they occur.
- If someone has been infected by a tick bite, signs and symptoms may occur even before the results of tick testing are available. You should not wait for tick testing results before seeking medical advice if you feel sick.
- A positive test on a tick is not an automatic indication that treatment is needed or that you will get sick. A positive test indicates that the tick was infected but not that the tick was successful in spreading the infection to the person bitten. Any positive test results should be discussed with your health care provider who will work with you to determine the best course of action based on:
- Your likelihood of an exposure to a tick-borne disease
- When the tick bite occurred
- The presence or absence of signs or symptoms
- Other factors relative to your particular situation
- Tick testing does provide general information about risk to individuals and populations exposed to ticks in particular geographic areas. The University of Massachusetts Laboratory Of Medical Zoology makes their test results available to the public, free of charge, through the Tick-Borne Disease Network Passive Surveillance Database. The name and address of individuals that send ticks in is always kept confidential, but the information about where the tick was found and what pathogens it carried is of great value to the public and agencies trying to track tick-borne diseases.
Tick identification and testing locations
The following organizations, listed alphabetically, do offer tick identification and/or testing services for a fee. The listing of these organizations does not constitute an endorsement by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health of the organization, or information, products, or services provided, and none should be inferred. This list is provided as a guide to tick identification and/or testing services available for Massachusetts' residents. This list may not be comprehensive and the contact and price information may change at any time. The information was up-to-date as of March 2017. Any questions people have about situations that may affect their health should be directed to their health care provider.
Connecticut Pathology Laboratories Inc.
1320 Main Street, Suite 24
Willimantic, CT 06226
Cost: $64-140/tick to test for up to 4 different diseases carried by ticks, depending on the species of tick. Results are usually available in 5-7 business days.
Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
61 North Eagleville Road, Unit 3203
Storrs, CT 06269-3203
Cost: $50-120/tick for species identification and testing for up to 4 different bacteria that can be carried by ticks. Results are available in 3-5 business days after receipt of tick. Rush service is available for an additional $25.
795/797 San Antonio Rd.
Palo Alto, CA, 94303
Cost: $68-408/tick to test for up to 6 bacteria or parasites. Up to 20 ticks can be tested together in a single test for one price. The species of the tick is not provided.
220 Norwood Park
Norwood, MA 02062
Cost: $75-98/tick for species identification and testing on Ixodes scapularis (black-legged tick) only for the bacteria that cause Lyme disease and the parasite that causes babesiosis. Results are available within approximately 15 business days following receipt of tick.
University of Massachusetts Laboratory of Medical Zoology
101 Fernald Hall
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
Cost: $50-200/tick for species identification and testing for up to 19 different possible diseases carried by ticks. Results are available within 3 business days following receipt of tick. In addition, tick testing results, but not personal contact information, are shared through the Tick-Borne Disease Network Passive Surveillance Database to share information about where infected ticks are being found.