Frequently Asked Questions
With tick-borne illnesses appearing all over the US, tick testing is more important than ever. If you're bitten by an infected tick, you may not know you're infected for days or weeks. But if you have the tick tested for harmful pathogens, you’ll be able to seek treatment ahead of the symptoms, increasing your chances of staying healthy.
Our real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing can identify certain pathogens with over 99.9% accuracy. We test ticks in our laboratory to identify harmful diseases such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, cat-scratch disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and others.
Your doctor may not be able to treat you for a tick-borne disease without evidence that you're at risk. Our test results provide that evidence, enabling your doctor to provide treatment before symptoms arise.
The PA Tick Research Laboratory tick testing process involves a three-step procedure called real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) that requires at least 24 hours to complete. When a tick arrives, we immediately work to identify it and determine how long it has been attached, when applicable. Once completed, testing for specific pathogens can begin.
First our laboratory technicians extract the DNA. Then real-time PCR is used to amplify the DNA. Finally, gel electrophoresis is sometimes performed to create a visualization of the extracted DNA.
Our tests are over 99.9% accurate. In the lab, our technicians conduct pathogen-specific analyses with the appropriate primers and probes. If pathogen signatures are found in the DNA, we can be reasonably certain that the tick is infected.
If the tick that bit you tests positive for a pathogen, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have been infected. Various factors, such as how long the tick was attached to you, affect your chances of contracting a tick-borne disease. Although a positive result on a tick test does not guarantee that you will become ill, be aware that you do have a relatively high chance of contracting the disease.
If the tick that bit you tests negative, it doesn't necessarily mean you're disease-free. There’s a possibility that you’ve been infected with a disease that the lab did not test for or that you were bitten by another tick. If you're concerned about a tick-borne illness, it’s best to talk with your doctor and watch for symptoms.
PA Tick Research Laboratory has an easy-to use online tick testing order form to allow you to quickly have your tick tested for any tick-borne disease. Just navigate to the order form, choose the diseases you would like us to test your tick for, enter your contact information and payment information.
Once you have completed your order, you will be sent a receipt and mailing label you can use to mail your tick in to our laboratory. Send your tick to us in a small plastic bag, and we will provide you with your test results within 72 hours after we receive your tick.
The exact amount of time your tests take to complete depends on when your specimen arrives and the current workload in our laboratory. You can speed up the delivery process by sending your specimen to us via overnight mail or a delivery service like UPS or FedEx. If you need your results even faster you can also order priority processing, which will move your tests to the front of our work queue immediately once we receive your specimen.
PA Tick Research Laboratory is proud to have a 72-hour testing turnaround. Once our lab receives your tick specimen, we will complete all of the tests you requested and send your results report within three business days or less.
We'll keep you up-to-date regarding your test by email and text message. You'll receive notifications when your order has been placed, when your tick arrives at our lab, and when your test results are available. You can also use our website to check your order’s status. To look up your order, you’ll need your name and Test ID. You can find your Test ID on your confirmation email and your purchase receipt.
The Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania will deliver your test results to your email inbox. You'll receive a text message letting you know your results are ready. If you provided a fax number for your physician or veterinarian, we'll send a copy of your results to that number as well. When you place your order, you can opt to receive a mailed lab report for an additional fee. Just select “Mailed Lab Report” under “Additional Options” on the order form.
Yes. We can test up to five ticks of the same species as long as you send them together and the ticks were removed from the same person or animal. Because testing is done all at once, the results will be compiled. That means we can tell you whether any ticks in the group carried a pathogen, but we can't tell which ticks were infected. If you need test results for ticks found on separate people or animals, you will need to place separate orders.
If you included a fax number for your doctor or veterinarian on the order form, we’ll fax them a copy of your complete test results as soon as the results are available.
To keep the tests affordable, the Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania offers three levels of testing. Packages are priced at $49.99, $99.99, and $199.99.
The Basic Panel includes the top three pathogens found in your tick’s species. The Advanced Panel includes the top six pathogens for your tick’s species. The Comprehensive Diagnostic Panel includes all relevant pathogens, priority processing, and testing for the Powassan virus.
Additional services are available as add-on items. Please see our online order form for details.
A tick must be removed carefully to avoid an increased risk of infection. Do not apply heat or any substance to the tick; doing so may increase your risk of contracting a pathogen. Use tweezers or a tick removal tool to grasp the tick, staying as close as you can to its head. Avoid twisting or squeezing as you pull the tick from the host. Place the newly removed tick in a plastic bag. Check that the bite area is clear and clean it with antiseptic.
Ticks are not all the same; each species carries its own set of pathogens. That’s why identification is important in tick testing. See our online Tick Identification Guide for help in identifying your tick.
We will check the species when you send your tick for testing.
When a disease-bearing tick attaches to a host, it takes some time for the disease to transfer into the host. If you remove a tick immediately after it begins to feed, there is a lower risk of infection. If the tick feeds for several hours before it is removed, the risk is higher. You can gauge how long a tick has been feeding by its level of engorgement.
Scientific evidence suggests that it takes at least six hours for Rocky Mountain spotted fever to transfer from tick to host. Lyme disease generally takes between 18 and 24 hours. These time periods are not definite, however, so testing is important for any tick you find on a person or pet.
We can test ticks any time, but the sooner you have your test results, the sooner you can seek treatment for any illness found. For many tick-borne diseases, symptoms do not appear immediately. With a positive test result, you and your doctor can decide whether to pursue treatment before symptoms set in.
Ticks do not have to be alive when tested. We can even test ticks that are no longer intact. However, if the tick has been coated in any substance or burned, our DNA tests may not be effective.
For our PCR test to work, we must have the tick that bit you. If you cannot send the tick, we will be unable to carry out a laboratory test. If you have been bitten but no longer have the tick, it’s a good idea to learn about tick-borne diseases and keep an eye out for symptoms. If you notice signs of illness, it’s important to see your doctor.
When you spot a tick on a person or pet, remove it right away. If the tick has not attached itself to the host, you can simply pick it up and place it in a plastic bag. If the tick is attached, you'll need to remove it carefully, following the steps listed here.
- Using tweezers or a tick removal tool, grip the tick, getting as close as you can to its head.
- Steadily pull the tick out. Avoid twisting or squeezing it, which could increase the risk of disease. Do not burn the tick or cover it in substances such as soap or alcohol. It’s best to pull the tick out rather than trying to get it to let go on its own.
- Place the tick in a plastic bag. Saving it will allow you to identify its species and, if needed, have it tested for tick-borne pathogens.
- Clean the bite with an antiseptic such as isopropyl alcohol.
- While some redness at the site is normal, this should subside. Watch for signs of infection. If you develop a rash, tenderness, or pain, see your doctor right away.
Important: Avoid burning the tick or coating it with any substances such as soap, alcohol, petroleum jelly, or acetone. Covering the tick with any substance or applying heat will irritate the tick and place you at greater risk of contracting a tick-borne disease. Burning the tick could affect the results of your tick testing.
After you have removed the tick, monitor the area for several weeks. Check for signs of infection including rash or swelling. (Keep an eye out for a bullseye-type rash, which may indicate the presence of Lyme disease.)
Laboratory testing is available through the Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania. Testing can reveal the presence of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Anaplasma, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever even before symptoms appear.
Average Rating: 5 Stars
John Kelly gives a month agoThank you for your quick and efficient testing. We live in a wooded farmland setting, and it is very helpful to know if we need to go on an antibiotic every time we get a tick bite. This is our 5th tick this year, and only one tick carried virus - thus only 1 (not 5) antibiotic script(s). Thanks again.
Kayla Dunn gives 2 weeks agoAn excellent service that I think is under utilized. Easy to use, completely free, and 100% helpful. I recommend the service to everyone I know! Fast testing of a few ticks that latched onto our dog during a hike allowed us to discover that unfortunately one of the ticks was carrying Lyme disease. We were able to consult with our vet quickly on a plan of care!
Heather Moore gives a week agoI have had such a great experience dealing with the Research Lab. We live in an area with a high tick population. I have a family of hunters that spend a lot of time outdoors. I also have a cat that loves to wander outside. If I find a tick attached I send it away to be tested. That way I know how to proceed if there is a positive result. The results come back quickly. So glad I found the Tick Research Lab!
Colleen Brenneman gives a week agoThis is an amazing program! I sent my tick immediately to them and 4 days later I had my results (That includes mail time). Fortunately my doctor had already put me on Doxy, just knowing I had been bit, because it tested positive for Lyme. Now we can have a plan to moved forward from here. Thank you so much! And it was so helpful knowing that there were no other diseases present either as they are growing rapidly in dogs in our area.
Connie Burrows gives 3 weeks agoThe process and procedure to submit ticks is quite simple. Communication is excellent step by step!! Results were returned in a quick turnaround time!! Very thankful to have this service available and provided free of charge. It has been very valuable for my health concerns and being able to receive treatment in a timely manner.
|For Pennsylvania residents|
|Basic Panel||Test for the top four pathogens most relevant to your tick species. This includes the Powassan virus for deer ticks and Tularemia for non-deer ticks.||$0|
|Advanced Panel||Test for the top six pathogens most relevant to your tick species, AND test for Powassan virus for deer ticks.||$50|
|Comprehensive Diagnostic Panel||
Test for all pathogens relevant to your tick species.
|For residents outside Pennsylvania|
|Basic Panel||Test for the top three pathogens most relevant to your tick species.||$50|
|Advanced Panel||Test for the top six pathogens most relevant to your tick species.||$100|
|Comprehensive Diagnostic Panel||
Test for all pathogens relevant to your tick species.
The Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania can accept credit/debit card, check, or cash payments at checkout. Basic Panel Testing is free for Pennsylvania residents.
While we cannot work directly with your insurance company, some insurance providers do reimburse for testing. Please consult your insurance provider for details. The Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania cannot assist you in securing reimbursement.
Yes. We keep all ticks sent to us for two years, which means your tick may be available for further testing. Contact our support department for assistance. You’ll need your original order number.
We make every effort to secure your information and keep it safe. Our test results are not classified as medical records. However, we comply with HIPAA rules to protect our customers.
We will never sell your information or allow it to be used by an unrelated third party unless we are required by law to do so.
All payments are secure. We use 128-bit TLS 1.3 SSL encryption on our website.
We may anonymize test results and use them in scientific research to learn more about tick-borne diseases. No information used in research can be traced back to an individual.
To check the status of your order, use our online status check.
If you believe we should have received your tick and you have not received a confirmation from us, or if we received your tick but haven't sent an update in more than four days, please contact us through our support page.