One of the scariest things about Lyme Disease is the uncertainty. We don’t know which ticks are carrying Lyme. We don’t know how long a tick needs to be attached to risk infection. We don’t have very accurate tests to diagnose Lyme Disease.
I want to share some information today to help alleviate a small portion of the mystery for some people. If you are unfortunate enough to get bit by a tick, but fortunate enough to see the tick and have the chance to save it, you can get that tick tested to see if it is carrying Lyme. The test costs $50.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst offers tick testing through tickreport.com. Detailed instructions for submission can be found here. They ask that ticks be submitted in a plastic ziplock bag, with a piece of moist paper towel. They will take a tick in almost any condition, and will refund your money if the tick sample is found to be unsuitable for testing (which they say is very rare).
Of course, you’ll want to get yourself tested for Lyme in the event of a tick bite as well. But it is worth noting that UMASS has found their testing to be 99.9% accurate, while the Lyme tests we have for humans (which work in a different way) are nowhere near as fool-proof, and produce numerous false negatives. While you’re talking to your doctor, mention that you have the tick and see if testing is available through their lab – some towns (especially in areas where Lyme is prevalent) offer free tick testing for their residents, and you might not find out unless you ask!
So today’s Lyme Lesson is: If You Get Bit – Save The Tick