Important Questions and Answers Regarding Tick Testing

  1. What tests do you currently offer?
  2. Do you offer any additional testing or services beyond the current testing panel?
  3. How much does it cost?
  4. I submitted my tick for a free identification. Can I still order a tick test?
  5. Why is there a charge for this testing? It seems like a valuable public service.
  6. Can I pay extra to rush my tick test?
  7. What types of payment do you accept?
  8. Do you accept insurance programs?
  9. I found five different ticks. Can I submit them and have them tested together for the price of one test?
  10. How should I send my tick?
  11. Should I send my tick via overnight shipping?
  12. After I removed my tick I covered it in alcohol, cooking oil, or another substance. Can you still test it?
  13. My tick died after I removed it. Can you still test it?
  14. My tick broke apart when I removed it. I was only able to save a few pieces. Can you still test it?
  15. How do the tests work?
  16. How long will it take to test my tick?
  17. When you are done testing my tick, can I have it back?
  18. When and how will I be contacted through the tick testing process?
  19. The tick I submitted tested positive. Does that mean I now have a disease and should seek treatment?
  20. The tick I submitted tested negative. Does that mean I don't need to seek treatment?
  21. What is being done with the additional survey information I provided when I submitted a tick?
  22. What are the limitations of testing ticks for pathogens?
  1. What tests do you currently offer?
    • At the current moment we offer DNA tests for the presence of the organsims that cause Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi), Anaplasmosis (Anaplasma phagocytophilum), and Babesiosis (Babesia microti) within a deer tick. However, we are actively working to increase our testing capabilities.
  2. Do you offer any additional testing or services beyond the current testing panel?
    • 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 UMass Amherst tick testing program (tickreport.com).
  3. How much does it cost?
    • A flat $15 rate is charged for Maine Residents. This flat rate includes tick species identification and testing for all three of the pathogens we currently offer. We currently do not test ticks for individuals located outside of Maine.
  4. I submitted my tick for a free identification. Can I still order a tick test?
  5. Why is there a charge for this testing? It seems like a valuable public service.
    • While we would like to offer this service for free, DNA testing is an expensive process. We are fortunate to be able to offer this service at a heavily subsidized rate to Maine residents.
  6. Can I pay extra to rush my tick test?
    • All tick tests will be completed as quickly as possible on a first-come, first-served basis.
  7. What types of payment do you accept?
    • We accept personal checks but would prefer payment via credit cards, debit cards, or electronic check since checks may delay your order. Please do not mail cash to the laboratory.
  8. Do you accept insurance programs?
    • 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.
  9. I found five different ticks. Can I submit them and have them tested together for the price of one test?
    • 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.
  10. How should I send my tick?
    • 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: UMaine Extension Diagnostic & Research Lab ATTN: Tick Lab 17 Godfrey Drive Orono, ME 04473-3692 Make sure to include the correct amount of postage for your package and specimen.
  11. Should I send my tick via overnight shipping?
    • 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.
  12. After I removed my tick I covered it in alcohol, cooking oil, or another substance. Can you still test it?
    • In most cases, yes. Our DNA 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.
  13. My tick died after I removed it. Can you still test it?
    • Our DNA testing procedures will work on a tick whether it is alive or not.
  14. My tick broke apart when I removed it. I was only able to save a few pieces. Can you still test it?
    • 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.
  15. How do the tests work?
    • Once we receive your tick at the laboratory we will use biochemical methods to separate the DNA 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) to look for the DNA signatures of specific disease-causing organisms that could be transmitted to a host.
  16. How long will it take to test my tick?
    • 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.
  17. When you are done testing my tick, can I have it back?
    • Once a tick is submitted for testing to becomes the property of the laboratory. Also, the DNA extraction procedures we use will destroy the tick.
  18. When and how will I be contacted through the tick testing process?
    • 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 cn 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 DNA report.
  19. The tick I submitted tested positive. Does that mean I now have a disease and should seek treatment?
    • We do not offer medical advice and a positive tick DNA 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.
  20. The tick I submitted tested negative. Does that mean I don't need to seek treatment?
    • 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.
  21. What is being done with the additional survey information I provided when I submitted a tick?
    • 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.
  22. What are the limitations of testing ticks for pathogens?
    • 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.