Tick ID, Removal, & Submisson
If you spend time outdoors, you are apt to pick up a tick from time to time. Don’t panic if you do. Medical experts differ on the time it takes for a tick to infect a host- ranging from several hours to up to 30 hours after the bite for infection to occur. If you perform a daily tick check, you greatly reduce your chances of contracting tick-borne illnesses, including Lyme disease. Here’s how to remove a tick:
- Wash the site thoroughly with soap and water, disinfect with antiseptic.
- If black-legged tick was engorged, contact your physician for treatment.
- Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease may include an expanding red rash, flu-like symptoms, and/or joint pain and swelling. Only 40% to 70% of Lyme disease victims may develop a rash within two days to four weeks. If untreated, more severe symptoms may develop, sometimes months to years later.
- Fill out a record of tick removal form.
Record of Tick Removal
Here is the information that you should record at the time of tick removal:
- The date and time the tick was removed.
- Whether the tick was attached to a person or animal.
- If attached to a person, age and sex.
- If attached to an animal, was it a dog, cat or other animal?
- Note the body part that the tick was attached to.
- Visible rash or other symptoms?
- Town & state where the tick was acquired.
- Positive identification of the tick species?
Contact individual testing facilities to see if additional information is required.
Tick Diagnostic & Lab Services
Tick Submission Information
In some tick endemic areas of the country, as many as 40-70% of deer ticks are infected with the Borrelia burgdorrifi spirochete, the Lyme disease bacteria. You won’t be able to tell if a tick is infected by simple looking at it, whatever the size. If you remove a deer tick from yourself, family member, or pet, here are the steps to take to preserve and submit the tick for simple identification by your physician or vet, or for a complete pathogen analysis from an independent testing laboratory.
- If you've removed an engorged tick, symptoms may begin even before the results of the tick analysis are available. Don't wait for tick testing results to seek medical advice if symptoms develop.
- Even if a submitted tick does test positive for a pathogen, there is no guarantee that the pathogen was passed on to the patient. The longer a tick is attached, however, the greater the chance of pathogen transmission.
- Overall testing is not perfect. Continue to monitor for symptoms after the removal of any tick. Keep in mind that if you've removed one tick, you've obviously been in tick friendly habitat. There may have been other ticks attached to you, a family member, or pet that you did not find.
After proper removal:
- Place the tick to be identified in a zip-lock bag or small vial.
- Place a small piece of wet cotton or paper towel along with the tick, as this will keep the tick from desiccating (drying out).
When submitting your tick sample and paperwork:
- Make certain to place the contents in a padded mailer and send overnight or priority carrier.
- Visit your post office to obtain small padded mailers.
Tick Testing Programs / Laboratories
Below is a partial list of additional state agencies and diagnostic testing labs. In most instances, each site will have its own submission form. Recognize that some will simply identify the submitted tick at no cost while others, for a fee, will analyze the submitted tick for various tick-borne pathogens. If you live in a state that is not listed below, consider contacting your state’s health agency to see if they support simple identification and/or further analysis.
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.Tick office information.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service.Tick identification only.
TickChek LLC.East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.