Once you have your tick removed you will want to have it analyzed to find out if the tick carries Lyme disease. It is very important to understand every lab maintains their own protocols for analyzing samples. Very few labs in the US will test for Lyme Disease. With this in mind, you might want to review the three suggestions I have provided for having your Tick analyzed for Lyme Disease. It is important you either contact the lab personally or look at their website as how they want to receive your tick specimens. Labs are very particular. Some labs may accept live ticks in a small bottle others may require you freeze the sample overnight before sending it to them for analysis. It is recommended to check with the lab of your choice and remember there are only a couple of labs to choose from. Frozen samples must not preserved in Alcohol. Most labs will refuse Formalin it was once used to preserve samples it is a known carcinogenic chemical that should be handled only in supervised lab conditions.
One of the latest methods and easiest is to simply buy tick kits, they run about $20 dollars for the kit and $40 – $60 to have many of the important tests such as Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, Babesia, Bartonella, Rickettsia, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma
- a TIC-kit is an easiest way to have your tick tested you merely follow the instructions inside the package and they include everything you will need from a small pair of tweezers (larger ones might be a better option as they tend to capture the entire organism. These kits are inexpensive and test for the most common pathogens a tick may carry. You freeze your sample in the container as per instructions and send to the lab on the package. While I have not had the need for one of these lately, my Lyme Literate doctor carries them with here when she knows she is going to be in a tick zone. So I feel confident plugging these. The lab charges you one fee for the kit which is around $20 dollars and between $40 and $60 to test for Lyme spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, Babesia, Bartonella, Rickettsia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma. Here is he link: TIC-Kit
- As for the other labs. I have heard Igenix is a great lab and does a good work. It is your choice. They are expensive. And charge for each pathogen separately to test for all. But they can check for other organisms you may be looking for which the Tic-Kit does not cover. All ticks must be saved and sent to a qualified lab, use TIC-Kit, and the results given to your LLND or DMV with results. If you use a tick kit you can save a lot of money because Igenic charges $58 per pathogen. Other labs may be higher. Insurance will not typically pay for this service.
- Make sure to ask how a lab charges per specimen tested and how to package receive their specimen if you decide to go this route. It is very important to find out what you are paying for. Also it is important that you send the lab what they are expecting to receive. Call and speak to someone in the lab. Some labs prefer life samples this a can be done easily if the tick is still alive. Place tick in a small plastic vial or zip closure bag with several blades of fresh grass to support humidity, and then ship immediately. Place ticks from different hosts/collection sites into separate vials or bags, marking each with proper identifying information so that each can be matched to its corresponding tick submission form. For example, you may wish to number the vials, and then include the vial number on each submission form. Finally, place each vial or bag inside another zip closure bag (e.g., double bag). Also, some labs work with only frozen samples from a plastic container while others prefer tiny glass tubes.
- Your doctor should have you on antibiotics ASAP after any tick bite regardless of whether you know you are infected. This will benefit you while you wait to get your results back. This will also help get a head start on treatment if the tick tests is positive and for the co-infectors.
- Don’t handle ticks without protective gloves. It is possible for infectious microbes to enter through mucous membranes or breaks in the skin. This precaution is particularly directed to individuals who remove ticks from pets e.g., cats and dogs, and farmers who remove ticks from their animals with unprotected fingers. Children, the elderly, and immuno-compromised persons may be at greater risk of infection and should avoid this procedure.
- While it might be tempting to some, do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick because its fluids (e.g., saliva, hemolymph is composed of a fluid plasma in which hemolymph cells called hemocytes are suspended and can contain pathogens, gut contents which may contain infectious organisms). If when removing the tick you didn’t remove all the feeding components you will need to see a doctor so they can remove them.
- Ticks can be kept alive by using needle nose tweezers and place the tick, along with several blades of grass, into a small container (e.g. a clean screw-cap pill bottle or a zip-lock Freezer bag). Be sure you include all reference material as indicated below.
- The following is means of preserving the species which is suitable practices for most labs. DO NOT use formalin as it is a harmful chemicals that can interfere with laboratory testing.
- If the tick is engorged, carefully place the dead tick and/or engorged tick inside a small container using the above method. If the tick is alive place into a container with a few blades of grass and follow the instructions for sending off to a lab for analysis. It is imperative you follow the labs techniques for sending in samples as techniques have changed. Again, some labs want alcohol some don’t. So know in advance where you are sending your tick before you kill your live sample in alcohol. Depending on the lab use the containers they suggest. While some labs still use plastic, plastics have been known to alter results pertaining to DNA. Many labs now use glass.
- The following information isrequiredprior to processing your tick sample:
- Date of collection
- Geographic coordinates – these are found on any mobile phone device or car GPS unit.
- where the tick was found (E.g., on the ground, a person, where on person, or if adhered/embedded,
- description if the tickwas damaged; and
- Include your name
- Phone number
- email address
- Name of physician or veterinarian if more information is required or to give test results. It is always best to include as much information as possible for the researchers.
- Indicate that one set of the results will be sent to your doctor and one set to you.
- Check with your State Department of Health if needed.
- You must find a reliable labs to give your samples to. This cannot be stressed enough.Igenex in California has a great reputation and sampleshave been submitted to them from all over the world. If they wont take your samples ask where they recommend to send it. SameforUmass.
- www.igenex.com West Coast
- https://ag.umass.edu/services/tick-borne-disease-diagnostics East Coast
- www.igenex.com West Coast