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University of Massachusetts Amherst Tick Testing Lab Is Busy, Busy, Busy

Have you found a tick bite?  Would you like to know if the tick has Lyme Disease?  Many people do want to know.  The University of Massachusetts Amherst where testing is performed is already testing 200 ticks a week.  Ticks begin moving at the first sign of warm weather, so residents of Central Mass are finding plenty since our weather warmed.

The cost for tick testing is $50.  For residents of 32 counties in Massachusetts there is no charge, thanks to a grant provided by the governor.  Many who find a tick embedded in their skin will want to know if that tick is infested with Lyme Disease.

Ticks testing positive in Massachusetts are already being identified at the lab.  Along with Lyme Disease, deer ticks are tested for anaplasma bacteria and babesia parasites.  Dog ticks and Lone Star ticks are tested for the specific diseases they carry as well.  Ticks in almost any condition can be tested.  The lab has tested ticks that are broken, without heads, dried-up and with many other types of damage.  If the tick you send cannot be tested, the lab will return your fee.  You can go to this UMass Amherst website to learn how to submit a tick for testing.  Ticks are accepted from every state in the US.

One thing to remember is that these tests do not prove a tick has a particular disease.  The tests look for the DNA of the disease.  If the DNA of the bacteria, parasite, etc. is present, it indicates there was exposure to the disease indicated.  With this information, the lab recommends you take the results to your physician and discuss treatment.  If you are waiting for your test results and you begin to show any symptoms of a tick-borne infection, don’t wait for the test results.  Contact your physician immediately.

In addition to reporting your test results, the lab also reports to your local town the number of ticks testing positive in that location.  No patient information is shared with these towns, only the number of ticks testing positive for the diseases.  For the 5 months of 2014, 666 ticks have been tested from Massachusetts and 39% of them have tested positive for Lyme Disease.  In addition, 23% were positive for Borrelia miyamotoi and 11% for Anaplasma bacteria and Babesia parasites.  For all diseases, 72% of the ticks tested were positive for one of the many tick-borne diseases.

Give us a call to get started with your Central MA summer-long mosquito and tick protection.

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