Free Tick Testing Now Available
Our goal at Bay Area Lyme Foundation is to provide individuals with free, timely information as to whether a tick they have encountered is—an infected or uninfected tick. By sending us your tick(s) you are participating in a citizen science project and national tick-collection/testing effort which will enable our scientists to compare past and potential future distributions of ticks and tick-borne disease. Our hope is that by collecting this data, we may be able to predict where risk of disease is most common.
This 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.) Or you can try your local Public Health office.
Why Are We Offering Free Testing?
Sending us your tick(s) allows our scientific researchers to gather data about ticks from all over the United States. Our scientists can broaden their investigations into tick populations and glean information on the current distribution of the major tick vectors and the prevalence of tick-borne pathogens that people encounter in different locations.
How it works
The tick can be dead or alive, but ideally collected less than 72 hours ago. Put your tick in a small Ziploc baggie with a moist cotton ball or piece of wet paper towel. If you have access to a small vial and alcohol, you can use that instead.
- Click here or on the image at right to be taken to our Free Tick Testing submission form, fill it out completely (electronically or print and fill out by hand), print and be sure to sign the waiver.
- You must complete the form in full and sign it correctly. It lets us know that you are agreeing to participate in this nationwide tick-collection study, but that you understand that this is a scientific endeavor and has no bearing on any medical outcome if relevant.
- Put the baggie and the document in a small padded envelope.
Send your tick
Include the signed paperwork and send your tick via regular US mail to:
Nathan Nieto, Associate Professor of Microbiology
Department of Biological Sciences
617 S. Beaver Street
Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff, AZ 86011
It’s important to understand a bit about tick testing when you send us a tick:
- Tick testing takes time. When the tests are part of a nationwide research study and involves the testing of six pathogens, they should not be used for clinical decisions or 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.) Or you can try your local Public Health office.
- Tick testing is highly accurate—we are using qPCR DNA based tests following column based extractions that are very specific and sensitive — however, no test is 100% definitive due to sampling error, extraction error, and qPCR error. While our test is very good, it cannot be 100%.
- These are the six pathogens that we test for:
- Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, a diverse group of bacteria that contains Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, the causative agent of Lyme disease.
- Relapsing fever Borrelia, which includes Borrelia miyamotoi, the causative agent of hard tick-borne relapsing fever.
- Babesia spp., a group which contains the causative agent of babesiosis.
- Anaplasma phagocytophilum, which causes anaplasmosis.
- Rickettsia group, that includes Rickettsia rickettsii, the causative agent of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
- Bartonella group, that includes Bartonella henselae.
- If you are sending us a tick that you FOUND—for example crawling on a blade of grass, or climbing up your leg, we still want the tick because we want as much data as possible
- If you are sending us a tick that BIT you, it’s important for you to know that even if the tick tests positive, that bacteria may NOT have been passed to you.
- Either way, if you have been in a place where infected ticks—or any ticks—are present, you should always be watching yourself for symptoms. Why? Because sometimes you may have had another tick on your body for a number of days and you never even knew it
- Current diagnostic tools for Lyme and other tick-borne infections may give false negatives, so it’s important to be aware of your own physical health and seek continuing advice if you start to feel ill. Alternatively, some tests will give false positives, something you should also be aware of. See list of possible symptoms
• We are accepting ticks from the United States only
How will I learn the results?
You will receive an email from our laboratory (email@example.com) that will detail the species of tick and results of the pathogen tests.
How long before I will get results?
After receiving your tick, the laboratory strives to complete testing within 12 business days. Due to a high number of submissions during peak exposure periods, this timeframe could be extended. It is extremely difficult for the laboratory to track your tick prior to processing, if you believe you should have received results, please check your spam folders for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if I have questions about the findings?
Please feel free to contact the lab with any questions regarding the findings. Use your “FTT_ID#” (provided to you with your results) in the subject heading of the email so that we may track your report and respond in a timely manner. Email the lab at email@example.com.
Thank you—your participation will help us gather a lot of ticks, a lot of data, and hopefully lead us to reaching our goal of making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure!
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If you have additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Results From Our First Tick Testing Study
Thanks to everyone who sent us their ticks!
Your tick is among the 16,000 ticks that were part of the first national citizen-scientist tick study, published in PLOS ONE. Not only did you help find ticks capable of carrying Lyme disease in 83 U.S. counties where they were previously undocumented, but there were other surprising findings. Read our press release to learn more.