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Bay Area Lyme Foundation Offers Free Tick Testing Nationwide

Free Tick Testing Initiative Is First In The Nation and Aims to Map Tick-borne Diseases Across the U.S. Through Crowd-sourcing

Silicon Valley, CA, February 16, 2016 — Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading nonprofit funder of innovative Lyme disease research in the US, today announced that the Foundation is the first to offer free tick testing for residents of the U.S.  Testing is available through a partnership with Nate Nieto, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University and his lab.  Bay Area Lyme Foundation hopes to use this crowd-sourced data as a vehicle for gaining a greater understanding of the geography of tick-borne diseases in the U.S.  If successful in accumulating data, it will be the first crowd-sourced study of its kind.

“A major challenge for the Lyme disease community is understanding the prevalence of Lyme disease bacteria in ticks throughout the US, so that physicians and residents can be appropriately vigilant to the symptoms of the disease,” explained Laure Woods, President and Co-founder of Bay Area Lyme Foundation, who conceptualized this idea and provided funding to Bay Area Lyme through a grant from the Laurel Foundation to cover the initial costs of the tick analyses.

“With this effort, we intend to make it easier for people who have been bit by ticks, particularly in geographic areas where Lyme disease is not yet recognized as endemic, to understand their potential risk,” added Woods.

This free service is designed to offer insights into the pathogens carried by ticks, and the results, in addition to any symptoms, should be discussed with a healthcare provider. Results from the tick test are not meant to be a diagnostic and individuals should discuss any symptoms or changes in health status with their physicians, as some tick bites will not transmit agents that cause disease.

“This new initiative has the potential to gather extensive data on the geographic distribution and future expansion of ticks carrying pathogens that causes various diseases in humans, and could allow us the opportunity to better understand where in the US we are at a greater risk of acquiring these diseases,” stated Dr. Nieto, who cited climate change among other reasons the risk of acquiring Lyme exists in areas outside the known endemic Northeast.

Northern Arizona University will accept ticks from any state in the US.  Ticks will be tested for six bacterial infections: Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease; Borrelia miyamotoi, which causes tick-borne relapsing fever; Anaplasma phagocytophilum, which causes human granulocytic anaplasmosis, Ehrlichia chafeensis, which causes human monocytic erhlichiosis, and Rickettsia rickettsii, the agent of Rocky-mountain spotted fever, and the protozoan pathogen, Babesia microti. Results will be available within five business days of receipt based on estimated volumes, and the data will be reported to the sender by email, as well as mapped, categorized, and recorded.

There is a great misconception that Lyme is easy to diagnose due to the bullseye rash.  However, the rash (Erythema migrans) only occurs in approximately 70-80% of infected persons and only a subset of erythema migrans rashes resemble a bullseye.  In fact, the current “gold standard” diagnostic for Lyme disease misses up to 60% of cases of early stage Lyme disease.  Therefore, knowing the general symptoms of the first stage of Lyme disease (and other tick-borne pathogens) is critical in reducing the burden of disease in people. Typical symptoms include headaches, flu-like illness, joint pain, fatigue, and sometimes a rash that has a few different shapes including one which may look like a bullseye centered on the tick bite.

U.S. residents seeking more information should click here.

About Lyme disease
One of the fastest growing vector-borne infectious diseases in the United States, Lyme disease is a potentially debilitating infection caused by bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected tick to people and pets. If caught early, most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated, but it is commonly misdiagnosed due to lack of awareness and unreliable diagnostic tests. There are approximately 329,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, according to statistics released in 2015 by the CDC. As a result of the difficulty in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease, as many as one million Americans may be suffering from the impact of its debilitating long-term symptoms and complications, according to Bay Area Lyme Foundation estimates.

About Bay Area Lyme Foundation
Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a national nonprofit organization committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure, is a leading private sponsor of innovative Lyme disease research in the US.  A national 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Silicon Valley, the Foundation collaborates with world-class scientists and institutions to accelerate medical breakthroughs for Lyme disease. It is also dedicated to providing reliable, fact-based information so that prevention and the importance of early treatment are common knowledge.  A pivotal donation from The Laurel Foundation covers all overhead costs and allows for 100% of all donor contributions to Bay Area Lyme Foundation to go directly to research programs. For more information about Lyme disease or to get involved, visit www.bayarealyme.org or call us at 650-530-2439.
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31 Comments on “Bay Area Lyme Foundation Offers Free Tick Testing Nationwide

  1. I just sent in a couple of tick samples this weekend, 05/25/2019. I don’t see much activity on your comments page anymore and am hoping that your tick program is still up and running. Still testing ticks in 2019? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Jessica, Thank you for sending the tick and participating in our citizen science project! Please understand that our goal is to help assess whether you may have encountered infected or uninfected ticks and to help document the distribution and incidence of ticks and tick-borne disease. While our hope is that by collecting this data, we may be able to predict where risk of disease is most common, the program is NOT intended for clinical decisions or as a diagnostic tool. If you wish to use the analysis for your own personal health care decisions, you should send your tick to one of a number of pay-for-service companies that do allow for this type of diagnosis. (These services include IGeneX, and TickReport.) You can also try your local Public Health office. Thank you again for participating in this effort!

  2. Hello.
    Thank you for all the effort and work you are doing to study and hopefully, one day, contribute to the eradication of this very destructive pathogen.

    I was bitten by a tick in 1998 (never saw it). Went to PC when I saw an approx. 8-inch purple half-a-bullseye on the top of my inner thigh. My symptoms (besides that) included: exhaustion, unbelievably stiff neck, joint aches, muscle aches, inability to concentrate, loss of appetite, and severe headache. I had researched Lyme before going to my Dr, so when she recommended 48 hours of antibiotic, I insisted on 2 weeks, and then with persistent symptoms, an additional 2 weeks, and then an additional 3 weeks. It took me two years to recover enough to return to my normal activities. That was almost 20 years ago. I believe I am 99% recovered.

    I am now 73 years old, a grandmother, living in Gloucester, Mass. I have been bitten every year since (at least once). Sometimes there is a bruise or a bullseye, sometimes not. And that is with being vigilant; spraying ankle, wrist, and neck cuffs with DEET; and careful examinations every day at end-of-day after working outside or not. I have found ticks on me after just going to the grocery store!

    My layman’s conclusions: Ticks are attracted to me. Pheromones? I have developed some level of resistance (like a snake charmer who becomes somewhat immune to the poison in the venom). I suspect that in this area (Mass. Cape Ann) Black Flies also may be transmitting Lyme as that is the insect I am most often bitten by (also attracted to me) and I present the classic Lyme symptoms after a [black fly] bite, only milder.

    This morning, I had an embedded tick in the back of my neck on my spine. The head was embedded. A medical friend was able to extricate the tick whole and alive. I called my PC and got an appt. to see her tomorrow. They would not call in a script for Doxycycline until I see her. I have some on hand (did not tell them that) and started myself on 100 mg. 2x day until I get a new script tomorrow. I anticipate having to convince my PC to prescribe that. I live with this reality.

    No doubt you are well aware of the conspiracy theories that exist about how the US started getting Lyme. If they turn out to be true, the financial implications are beyond enormous. I wish you the very best of luck in your project and also hope all involved take good care.

  3. I work at a dog rescue and i know we have a major tick problem. But my boss keeps taking dogs to the vets and coming back telling me they don’t know whats wrong with the dogs. So i have been doing research for 5 months now and my findings tell me the dogs are having serious and possibly zoonotic diseases and my boss isn’t telling me whats really going on. So i work 8 hours a day exposed to tick infested places and my boss and the vets are helping her hide what the ticks are passing on to the dogs. And my life is at risk i can send as many samples that are needed to you. I have been very couscous and havn’t been bit yet in two years. But i do believe i deserve to know what these ticks are carrying that she wont tell me about and forces me to work in dangerous conditions . Please help me

    1. Also based on the medication prescribed from the vets and symptoms the dogs are showing from ticks point to Lyme. I have never seen so many diff kinds of ticks i work in the nation forest in California devore, ca to be exact. I know these ticks are carrying Lyme and boss isn’t telling me or taking steps to control the infestation. And maybe my samples can help you and me both.

    2. Hi Jamie, There is no validated evidence that Lyme disease can spread from dogs to humans, however, it is true that it is the same type of tick that can pass the Lyme-causing bacteria to both dogs and humans and certainly being in close proximity creates risk. (Note: both dogs and people are also vulnerable to other tick-borne illnesses such as Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Bartonella).

      Ticks have multiple life stages and have to feed during each stage. Typically, once a tick bites its host it will stay attached to feed and then once full, will drop off and prepare for the next stage of its life. Anytime you or a pet is in an area where ticks reside, it is important to do a thorough tick check. Ticks that are found can be saved and sent for testing if there is reason to suspect there could be an infection. And any symptoms should be discussed with an informed health care provider.

      [Please note that the free tick testing program is intended for ecological and surveillance purposes (to help document the incidence and geographic distribution of Lyme) and we welcome your submissions. However, this service is not intended as a diagnostic tool. If you are wishing to use the analysis for your own personal health care decisions, you should send your tick to one of a number of pay-for-service companies that do allow for this type of diagnosis. (These services include IGeneX, and TickReport.)]

      Hope that helps. Best wishes.

    1. The tick testing program is definitely still active however we do not recommend that patients rely on this testing for clinical diagnostic purposes. If you are wishing to use the analysis for your own personal health care decisions, you should send your tick to one of a number of pay-for-service companies that do allow for this type of diagnosis. (These services include IGeneX, and Tick Report.) Best wishes.

  4. Hi, I was bitten by a deer tick today. I want to get PCR before deciding to take doxycycline as it is hard on my body. It was likely on my body for under 12 hours, it was not engorged but was well attached (head was not imbedded though). I would like to know if I could get a turn around time of less that a week so there is not a significant delay in treatment should I require. In your expertise, would you recommend treatment prior to PCR results. If so, how long… I am hearing different protocols of one, two or three weeks.

    1. Unfortunately Bay Area Lyme Foundation is not a clinical entity and cannot provide advice on individual cases. We would encourage you to speak with your doctor sharing your concerns and any symptoms you may be experiencing. Your doctor will be best equipped to help you assess the risks and options and hopefully will be familiar with the incidence level of Lyme disease in your area. (You can also always consult the ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) directory for a referral to other physicians in your area that are familiar with the disease.)

  5. Please contact me re: elderly pet with medication induced thrombocytopenia, requiring transfusions and nearly dying. I discovered a very engorged tick on her & she has not seemed to be feeling well the past couple of days. I need to test the tick before treating her.
    Please help. Thank you, Kimberly

    1. Kimberly, We are very sorry to hear about your beloved pet. Unfortunately the free tick testing program is not intended for clinical decisions or as a diagnostic tool for people or pets. If you are wishing for a clinical diagnosis, we recommend that you send your tick to one of a number of pay-for-service companies that do allow for this type of diagnosis. These services include IGeneX and TickReport.

      The free tick testing program is really designed to improve our understanding of the ecology of Lyme disease and to help assess geographic incidence / risk factors to aid with prevention of the disease.

      We hope that you can find a veterinarian who can assist you and wish you and your pet the best of health.

    1. Yes, tick testing will be available through 2017. Thank you for your interest. Wishing you a healthy and Lyme-free 2017.

  6. Thank you so much for providing this service and for all research currently being done on tick related illnesses! I sent a tick in for testing a little over three weeks ago and I’m anxiously waiting for the results to come by email. I would like to know what if any bacteria was found in the tick to know if my son is getting the right treatment. Is there another way to get the results?

    1. Estella, we apologize for the delay. Perhaps not at all surprising for a first-of-its kind program of this nature, the free tick-testing center was quickly inundated with submissions from all over the country. Where this has proven most challenging is on the administrative side. In order to keep up with the scientific testing, all resources were initially focused on testing which slowed the communication response rate. Additional resources have been deployed and they are making their way through the backlog. We hope to be fully caught up within the next week, with an intent to insure a future turnaround rate of less than 5-7 days from receipt of the tick.

    1. Bay Area Lyme Foundation was founded in the SF Bay Area but is a national organization funding research and public education about Lyme disease all across the country. The foundation’s mission is to accelerate breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease and, in its efforts to support the most promising efforts, Bay Area Lyme has partnered with more than 20 major research institutions across the US and including many in the Northeast (see Our Research Projects for more details about these partnerships). Unfortunately Lyme disease is rapidly expanding its reach and there is an urgent need for a national focus on this growing epidemic.

  7. Can Lyme be contracted by something other than a tick? I was stung by something last August, think it was a hornet or wasp (it flew away too quickly to see) and have had a few strange symptoms since. Just curious if Lyme could be contracted by something other than a tick?

    1. Lyme disease among humans is primarily contracted via tick bites, however the ticks — and the tick bites — can be so small they go unnoticed (a common occurrence). There is some research indicating that there may be other insect vectors carrying Lyme to humans however there is very little definitive data. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and have been in an area where you could have been exposed to ticks, it would be wise to document your symptoms and consult your doctor.

    2. Hi, I am a Lyme support leader in Nashville, TN. The answer is yes. There are other vectors besides ticks that carry and transmit Lyme. Biting flies, mosquitoes, horse flies, fleas, and more. The media focused on ticks, but the Scientist whose name is on the pathogen — Dr. Willy Burgdorfer — stated many years ago that many other vectors exist. I met both Dr. Burgdorfer and a South American physician, who recovered from Lyme himself and who was treating 300 cases of Lyme in Argentina, at a tick diseases conference long ago. There, in Argentina, the vector was a Tsetse fly common to lake recreational zones there. So people on holiday in Argentina would get Lyme or Lyme-like infections that way.

  8. No testing for Babesia duncani? This is supposedly a west coast pathogen but it has probably gone east to a considerable extent. It would help a lot to track this one too.

    1. Unfortunately, because of the great diversity present in the bacteria families and in consideration of available resources, we simply cannot test for everything. The assay being used is focused on the most common infections. There may well be future iterations that expand on this scope.

    2. We have a lot of Babesia in our area..My son, daughter, neighbor, several others in the support group and myself…and it is supposed to be rare here also…I don’t think so. Living in NW Indiana.

    3. I’m in PA, my LLMD suspects Babesia is what I have. Just a FYI. Our property is covered with ticks. Every human and animal here has been bitten and all animals tested came back positive for Lyme. However it seems they don’t test animals for co-infections. Myself, I have been fighting the Lyme and co-infection battle for seven years now. Spent the first three going from doctor to doctor, getting the wrong Rx.

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