Important Questions and Answers Regarding Tick Testing
- What tests do you currently offer?
- Do you offer any additional testing or services beyond the current testing panel?
- How much does it cost?
- I submitted my tick for a free identification. Can I still order a tick test?
- Why is there a charge for this testing? It seems like a valuable public service.
- Can I pay extra to rush my tick test?
- What types of payment do you accept?
- Do you accept insurance programs?
- I found five different ticks. Can I submit them and have them tested together for the price of one test?
- How should I send my tick?
- Should I send my tick via overnight shipping?
- After I removed my tick I covered it in alcohol, cooking oil, or another substance. Can you still test it?
- My tick died after I removed it. Can you still test it?
- My tick broke apart when I removed it. I was only able to save a few pieces. Can you still test it?
- Can you test blood or skin samples from people and pets?
- How do the tests work?
- How long will it take to test my tick?
- When you are done testing my tick, can I have it back?
- When and how will I be contacted through the tick testing process?
- The tick I submitted tested positive. Does that mean I now have a disease and should seek treatment?
- The tick I submitted tested negative. Does that mean I don't need to seek treatment?
- The tick I submitted tested positive for Borrelia miyamotoi and Borrelia burgdorferi. Is it infected with both pathogens?
- What is being done with the additional survey information I provided when I submitted a tick?
- What are the limitations of testing ticks for pathogens?
- I didn't think dog ticks were known to transmit disease-causing organisms in Maine. Why are you testing for them?
- Why wasn't my dog tick tested for Lyme disease bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi)?
- The Tick Lab offers three DNA testing panels to detect the pathogens that can cause tick-borne disease in Maine.
After your tick has been identified, the Tick Lab will select the appropriate tests for your sample based upon which
pathogens that tick species is able to transmit.
- Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi)
- Anaplasmosis (Anaplasma phagocytophilum)
- Babesiosis (Babesia microti)
- Borrelia miyamotoi disease (Borrelia miyamotoi)
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever (Rickettsia rickettsii)
- Ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia species)
- Tularemia (Francisella tularensis)
- Powassan Virus
- Heartland Virus
We currently test deer ticks and related species for the organisms that cause:
- We do not currently offer any additional tests. If you are interested in testing your tick for pathogens beyond what we offer, we suggest consulting the Pennsylvania Tick Research Lab, Tick Report, or ECO Laboratory.
- A flat $20 rate is charged for Maine Residents. This flat rate includes tick species identification and testing for the appropriate panel(s). We currently do not test ticks for individuals located outside of Maine.
- Yes, you can still order a test once the identification is completed. However, DO NOT go through the system and submit another order since we already have records for your specimen at the laboratory. Please visit this page and enter your unique sample identifier to upgrade your sample to a PCR test.
- While we would like to offer this service for free, DNA / RNA testing is an expensive process. We are fortunate to be able to offer this service at a heavily subsidized rate to Maine residents.
- All tick tests will be completed as quickly as possible on a first-come, first-served basis.
- We accept personal checks but would prefer payment via credit cards, debit cards, or electronic check since physical checks may delay your order. Please do not mail cash to the laboratory. We also have the capability
to accept payments from participating institutional partners on behalf of their clients. If you are an institution and would like to opt-in to this program, please contact tickID@maine.edu for more information.
- Tick testing is not a medical diagnosis and our lab does not offer medical advice. Insurance companies do not cover the cost of tick testing.
- Our laboratory procedures are specifically designed to test individual ticks. If you would like to have all of these ticks tested, they will have to be paid for and
entered into our system individually. However, each of the labeled specimens can be sent to the laboratory together in a single envelope.
- After completing the submission form place the tick in a sealed container (preferably a zipper lock bag). Clearly label the container and envelope with your name and sample number. Place the sealed container into an envelope or box and mail to the address below.
Make sure to include the correct amount of postage for your package and specimen.
UMaine Extension Diagnostic & Research Lab
ATTN: Tick Lab
17 Godfrey Drive
Orono, ME 04473-3692
- The amount of time the tick takes to get to the laboratory will not impact the quality of your test. Once the sample arrives at the laboratory there is generally a 3-business day turn-time for
you to receive the results of your test. However, samples arriving on Friday afternoon will not be started until the following Monday, due to the time requirements of the DNA extraction procedures. We currently do not have personnel in the laboratory on weekends.
- In most cases, yes. Our PCR test is robust and will work just fine for most foreign substances. However, bleach, acetone, and other harsh chemicals may limit our ability to complete a test. Please let us know in a note included with the specimen which chemcial(s) were used on the tick so we know the best steps to proceed with the testing.
- Our PCR testing procedures will work on a tick whether it is alive or not.
- In most cases, yes, we can still test tick parts. However, most disease-causing organisms reside in the salivary glands or gut of the tick. Providing a sample that is only a few legs will probably not give a representative result of what was inside the tick.
- The Tick Lab is not a clinical laboratory and is not certified to test samples from humans or animals for tick-borne diseases. We are only able to test ticks.
- Once we receive your tick at the laboratory we will use biochemical methods to separate the nucleic acids from the tick. This purified sample then contains the genetic information of the tick itself, as well as any disease-causing organisms that were also present in the tick.
We will then use a powerful molecular biology technique called quantitative PCR (qPCR) & (RT-qPCR) to look for the DNA / RNA signatures of specific disease-causing organisms that could be transmitted to a host.
- Generally, you should receive the results of your tick test within three business days of your specimen being received at the laboratory. However, it is possible that delays may occur due to unforeseen circumstances (extreme weather, etc.), but we will strive to have
every tick tested within three business days of arrival.
- Once a tick is submitted for testing it becomes the property of the laboratory. Also, the nucleic acid extraction procedures we use will destroy the tick.
- Once you place your order for testing, you will receive a confirmation email with the sample number that needs to be included with your sample. You will receive a second email when we receive your specimen at the laboratory and
complete the species identification. In this email you will be provided with a link where you can view the current status of your sample as it makes its way through the testing process. Once the testing is complete you
will receive a final results email with a unique link to your personal test report.
- We do not offer medical advice and a positive tick test should not be considered a medical diagnosis. The transmission of disease-causing organisms from a tick to a host (you) is a complicated process that can take time. Consulting
with a physician should not wait until tick testing results are available.
- Our lab does not provide medical advice. Consulting a physician should not wait until tick testing results are available. The results that we have provided are for the particular tick that was sent to the lab. It is possible
that another undetected tick bite could result in tick-born disease.
- Lyme disease is caused by a group of bacteria belonging to the genus Borrelia. Our Lyme disease test captures a broad group of these bacteria, resulting in a positive test.
Although Borrelia miyamotoi does not cause Lyme disease, it is close enough genetically to cause a positive result in both the Lyme disease test and Borrelia miyamotoi test.
It is possible that the tick could be infected with Borrelia miyamotoi and another Lyme disease causing bacteria.
- This information is being collected as part of a statewide program to determine where in Maine and when the risk of tick-borne disease is greatest. Also, we would like to
determine if certain outdoor activities put an individual at a greater risk of tick-borne disease.
- If a tick tests positive for infection, it does not mean that the tick passed the infection to the person on which it fed. If a tick tests negative for infection, it does not mean that the person it fed on will not get sick.
The tick testing service is intended to provide surveillance information on tick-borne disease in Maine. Consulting a physician should not wait until tick testing results are available.
- Although the American dog tick has not been found to transmit pathogens in Maine, it is associated with
Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other diseases in certain parts of the country, including southern New England. Testing
of this species is done to proactively monitor whether new tick-borne diseases are occurring in Maine.
- Extensive scientific research has been done on the American dog tick's ability to transmit
Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease bacteria). Though these ticks may be exposed through feeding on an
infected animal, they are unable to transmit the bacteria during future feedings. Since dog ticks are not a vector
of Lyme disease bacteria, we do not test them for this.