Ticks

PLEASE NOTE: QVHD DOES NOT TRANSPORT OR TEST TICKS. INSTRUCTIONS ARE GIVEN BELOW ON SUBMITTING TICKS DIRECTLY TO THE CONNECTICUT AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION (CAES).


Information on Submitting Ticks to The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station 

Who may submit a tick?

Ticks will be accepted only from residents of Connecticut. Tick testing is offered by The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station as a public service and there is no fee for tick identification and/or testing.  

What information should be submitted with the tick?

 The CAES Tick Submission Form should be completely filled out and packaged along with your tick. Please read the entire form carefully to ensure you are providing the proper information. Please leave a note if you are submitting more than one tick with a single submission form.

The form can be filled out and printed in your internet browser and is available here:
Tick Submission Form

How should ticks be prepared for sending?

Preparing the tick:
  • Do not place the tick on tape.
  • Ticks should be placed in a crush-proof container, but if one is not available a sealed plastic bag will suffice.
  • Do not package the tick in glass or in other fragile containers.
  • Do not package the tick with any objects. This includes paper towels, cotton swabs, plant matter, bandages, or any other materials.
  • Do not place the tick in any solution. This includes substances like water and alcohol. All ticks should be submitted dry.
Preparing the envelope:
  • The crush-proof container housing the tick should be tightly sealed and packaged in a padded envelope.
  • If a padded envelope is not available, a small sheet of bubble wrap can be added to a regular envelope to help protect the tick from being damaged.
  • Please request the mail carrier to handle the envelope containing tick manually and not through a machine. “Please hand sort” can be written on the envelope to help achieve this.

Where should tick samples be sent?

Please submit samples directly to:

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
Tick Testing Laboratory­­­
123 Huntington Street, P.O. Box 1106
New Haven CT, 06504

Samples may also be dropped off in-person at the Tick Testing Laboratory Jenkins Waggoner building located at the aforementioned address. See the image below to identify the Jenkins Waggoner building. 


Do all ticks submitted get tested for Lyme disease?

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station accepts all ticks for identification but only test those who have a risk of transmitting the causative agents of Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis to a human host. Due to limited resources at the Tick Testing Program and relatively small percentage of ticks infected, ticks are not currently tested for Powassan virus. However, in view of the potential human health risk, preparations are underway to test ticks for this virus, in addition to the other pathogens. Ixodes scapularis, also known as the blacklegged or deer tick, is the primary vector for these pathogens and is the only species of tick tested in our lab. We do not test the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), or the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) as they are not vectors for the aforementioned disease-causing agents.

Larval ticks of all species are not tested as they have not had the opportunity to become infected with any pathogens. Ticks that are unengorged are not tested. Ticks need to feed for nearly 40 hours to transmit the causative organisms of Lyme disease to humans, though this may vary for anaplasmosis and babesiosis. Ticks without blood in their midguts have not been attached long enough to pose a risk of infection. Male ticks are not tested as they rarely and briefly engage in blood-feeding and have not been documented to transmit pathogens.

Due to limited resources, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station only tests ticks that have fed on humans. If you submit a tick found on your pet, it will be identified to the species level and engorgement status but will not be tested.

 How are results communicated and how long does it take to receive a report?

Results are communicated via e-mail only. Please wait for communication from the Tick Testing Laboratory for results. Phone inquiries cause delays in the analyses of ticks. 

Reporting time depends largely on the number of ticks received throughout the year. During high points in tick activity, processing time may be delayed. Ticks are tested on a first-come first-serve basis.

                               

Because there is a time lag in getting the results, you should be vigilant for symptoms of tick-borne disease and contact your health care provider if you should develop any. (Symptoms are listed below.) 

Classic symptoms of Lyme Disease include a slowly, expanding red-pink rash, which may have the appearance of a Bull’s eye; flu-like illness, including low grade fever, fatigue, headache, neck stiffness, jaw discomfort, sore throat, or swollen glands; neurologic symptoms like Bell’s Palsey (drooping of the facial muscles), or other nerve-related symptoms; arthritis symptoms, including pain or stiffness in joints or muscles.  While these are classic symptoms, Lyme Disease can cause various other symptoms that may be persistent or come and go. If you experience any unusual illness for which there is no explanation or have symptoms that do not go away or get worse, especially if you have had any kind of a rash, call your doctor and be tested for Lyme Disease.

Tick-Associated Disease Prevention Steps

  • Wearing protective clothing (long sleeves, long pants) when in wooded areas. 
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET.
  • Perform daily body checks for ticks. (They like warm, dark places, like folds of skin or hairline.)
  • Use tick-repellent products on your pets. (But watch out! They drop off your pet and may find their way onto you!)
  • Yard attention such as keeping the grass cut and establishing a barrier between the yard and wooded areas may also help prevent exposure to ticks by reducing tick populations. Visit the CDC website for help in reducing ticks in the  backyard: www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/in_the_yard.html

Tick Removal

If you find a tick attached to your skin, there is no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively. Prompt and proper tick removal is very important for preventing possible disease transmission.

How to remove a tick

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers and protect your fingers with a tissue, paper towel, or latex gloves. Avoid removing ticks with your bare hands.
  2. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

Avoid folklore remedies such as "painting" the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible--not waiting for it to detach.

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html

https://portal.ct.gov/CAES/Tick-Office/Tick-Office/Information-on-Submit...