Tick Testing Laboratories
Dr. Vett Lloyd
Mount Allison University
If you’ve been bitten by a tick you may be panicking about whether or not it has infected you with any of the 20 or so diseases they are known to carry in North America. While you should keep a very close eye on any changes in your health over the following months, you can also take immediate action to find answers.
There are several labs across Canada and the United States that offer tick testing to help narrow down the specific pathogens present in each submitted tick. It is important to note however, that tick testing is not a reliable way to determine your chance of infection. The results of tick testing are not meant to determine the presence of disease in the person who has been bitten, or provide a diagnosis, and it is possible for an infected tick to bite without transmitting pathogens.
In Canada, several provinces offer tick testing through public, government-funded labs, though there are private labs offering the same, if not broader, services. Similarly, there are several options in the US. Many labs will only test specific types of ticks (mostly blacklegged), but may help you to identify the species of tick you’ve been bitten by.
If you choose to go this route, you might need to keep the tick alive, intact and contained. Requirements for submission can be different from lab to lab, some accepting live ticks, some taking ticks submerged in alcohol, and some requiring you deep freeze the sample before shipping. Some labs require specific paperwork and will not process your submission without it. Be sure to adhere to the requirements of the particular lab you’ll be sending your sample to. In each case, it is helpful to label the container with the date and location the bite occurred.
After you have safely removed and contained the embedded tick, you may be able to find further diagnostic help through one of the following laboratories:
Public Canadian Tick-Testing Laboratories
Private Canadian Tick-Testing Laboratories
US Tick-Testing Laboratories
UMaine Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory, ME (tick identification only, no disease testing)
Our mission at AtlanTick is to provide you with valuable information and tools to help you and your loved ones avoid tick bites and their associated diseases.