Commonly Asked Questions.
What method is recommended for removing ticks?
The CDC recommends using fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
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.
After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area 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.
Where should I send a tick for testing?
Connecticut Residents: Most health departments in Connecticut will submit engorged blacklegged (deer) ticks removed from residents to The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) for free testing. Ticks are analyzed for the presence of Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis. Response times vary based on the time of year. Some health departments charge a small processing fee. If your health department does not participate, residents may submit ticks directly by downloading the forms online HERE. Note that CAES will only test blacklegged ticks that have ingested human blood (no ticks removed from pets).
If you live outside Connecticut or wish to test a tick removed from a pet or person for a wider range of pathogens than CAES offers, consider the following labs:
Fee-based lab offering PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tick testing for eight pathogens. Ticks are examined and identified.This process determines the species of tick, life stage, and degree of blood engorgement. Prices range from $15. (identification only) to $125. for a comprehensive panel. Results are reported within 3 to 5 business days of receiving the sample. Two business days RUSH testing is available for an additional fee.
Fee-based lab offering a comprehensive range of tick-testing services. Prices range from $50 for identification, engorgement status and DNA testing for seven pathogens to $200 for a comprehensive DNA/RNA panel testing all ticks for 25 pathogens. Results are securely delivered via email within 3 business days after tick arrives at the lab.
Fee-based lab offering free tick identification and a $25. universal tick test panel checking for 12 pathogens. Standard processing is 3 to 5 days.Additional charges for Bartonella general species may apply. Results are emailed within 24-72 hr by choosing PRIORITY option at checkout (*additional charges may apply). Testing service offered to continental US residents only.
Free citizen science project and national tick-collection/testing effort. Tests for six pathogens. After receiving your tick, the laboratory strives to complete testing within 12 business days. Due to a high number of submissions during peak exposure periods, this timeframe could be extended.
Fee-based lab offering PCR tick testing for six pathogens. Each pathogen test is $75. Company does not identify type of tick. No information on website about return time for results.
Free testing for New York State residents to support research tracking the geographic expansion of ticks and tick-borne diseases. Samples are identified and tested for ten pathogens. Test results can be anticipated within 7 to 12 business days of receipt via email.
Free basic (3 pathogen)tick testing for Pennsylvania residents. This includes the Powassan virus for deer ticks and Tularemia for non-deer ticks. Pennsylvania residents will pay $50. for six- pathogen testing (with Powassan Virus test) and $100. for a comprehensive diagnostic panel. Nonresidents will be charged $50. for the basic panel, $100. for 6 pathogens and $175 for the comprehensive panel. Results are promised within 24 to72 hours of lab receipt.
University-affiliated lab offering PCR-based tick testing detecting the presence of 22 pathogens. Tick-test results within 24 to48 hours of receipt. Testing prices range from $49. (three pathogens) to $199. for a comprehensive panel that includes all pathogens relevant to you tick species, including Powassean Virus, and priority processing.
Tick shipping: Each lab may have slightly different instructions for packaging and shipping ticks. In general, ticks should be packed in a plastic vial or zip-lock bag and shipped relatively quickly. Ticks do not have to be alive to be tested. Do not secure under tape or store in alcohol.
Which products are recommended to repel or kill ticks?
Always be certain the product you are purchasing has been proven effective against ticks. Follow label instructions and reapply as directed. These sources have compiled extensive information on this topic. Check out their websites:
- Apply repellents to exposed skin and/or clothing. Do not use under clothing.
- Do not apply near eyes and mouth, and apply sparingly around ears.
- Never use repellents over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
- Do not spray in enclosed areas.
- Do not allow children to handle these product, and do not apply to children's hands. When using on children, apply to your own hands and then put it on the child.
- After returning indoors, wash your child's treated skin and clothes with soap and water or bathe.
- According to the label, oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under the age of three.
Will washing kill ticks on clothing?
The CDC has just completed a study to determine the optimal drying times and washing temperatures to kill ticks. Dry clothes should be spun in high heat for 6 minutes, wet clothes for 50. Water temperature ≥54 °C (≥130 °F) is optimal to kill ticks.Read the study results HERE.
Dr. Neeta Connally
BLAST Prevention Program Scientific Advisor Dr. Neeta Connally recently spoke with writer Janet Jemmott about current research and best practices for avoiding illness. Read the complete interview HERE. Dr. Connally is an associate professor of biological and environmental sciences at Western Connecticut State University. She recently received an estimated $1.6 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for tick research. She is also heads the WCSU Tickborne Disease Prevention Laboratory.
Have more questions about ticks?
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station's Tick Management Handbook is an integrated guide for homeowners, pest control operators, and public health officials for the prevention of tick-associated disease. You'll find everything you need to know about personal and yard protection.