TickCheck Frequently Asked Questions
Tick Testing FAQs
Did you just find a tick on yourself or a loved one? TickCheck can test your tick and determine whether it carries the bacteria that transmit Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections.
Tick testing is a laboratory process in which a tick is tested for the presence of pathogens that cause tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease. Using a high-tech method called real-time PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), we can determine the presence of certain pathogen with an accuracy level of over 99.99%.
Tick-borne diseases are a growing problem nationwide, and in many cases victims have no idea they have been infected until symptoms begin to develop days or even weeks after the bite. By having the tick that bit you tested for tick-borne diseases, you can better determine your risk for contracting various diseases and make treatment decisions with your doctor.
In many states, probable cause is required for a doctor to proactively treat a tick-borne disease. A positive tick test provides probable cause, and enables you to speak to your doctor about pre-emptive treatments that may even help you avoid symptoms completely.Get Started Here
The TickCheck tick testing process involves a three-step procedure called real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) that requires at least 36 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. For a detailed walkthrough of our process, see "How does tick testing work?".
Lab technicians utilize primers and probes specific to the pathogens of interest. If these special DNA signatures are found, we can confirm that the tick carries that particular pathogen. Using our modern methods, our test results are over 99.99% accurate.
Tick testing can conform with very high accuracy which diseases are carried by the tick that fed on you. However, just because an infected tick fed on you does not necessarily mean that you will contract the disease. In general, the longer the tick was attached to you the larger your chances of contraction. With this in mind, a positive tick test result implies that there is a very strong probability that you contracted the disease.
It is important to also realize that a negative result does not necessarily mean you will not contract any disease. You could have been exposed to other diseases you did not order a test for, or you could have been bitten by another tick which you did not find. We highly recommend that you discuss your test results with your doctor, and monitor yourself closely for the signs of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
Yes, although doing so is not recommended or necessary, your tick will still be testable. Certain chemicals that damage nucleic acid may affect results, such as formaldehyde, formalin, and bleach. A plastic baggie or pill bottle is the best method to perserve the specimen for DNA testing.
There is no time limit for the testing. The DNA inside the tick will remain stable for months to years.
How TickCheck Works
TickCheck 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, and enter your contact 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 2-3 business days* after we receive your tick.*In the case we receive your tick on Friday, we will resume processing it on Monday, as our lab technicians are unavailable on weekends. Get Started Here
TickCheck is proud to have a 48-hour* testing turnaround, the fastest in the industry. 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.
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.*Excluding weekends. In the case we receive your tick on Friday, we will resume processing it on Monday, as our lab technicians are unavailable on weekends.
You will be kept notified of your test's status via text message and email when your order has completed, once we receive your tick, and again when test results are complete. You can always check your order's status at any time by entering your name and Test ID (which is included in your receipt and confirmation email) in our online order status check tool.Check Test Status Here
When your results are available, TickCheck will send an SMS to the contact number you provided on the order form. Your full laboratory results will be sent to you via email, and a copy of your lab report can be faxed to you or your physician/veterinarian. If you have questions regarding the meaning of the results, you may of course contact us.
To measure approximately how long the tick has been attached, we calculate a measurement called the scutal index. The scutal index is a ratio of the tick’s body length to its scutum (shield) width. Then, we map the ratio to feeding time, based on a reference chart. This works because as the tick feeds, its body expands but its scutum does not.
When you place your order, you can include the fax number of your physician, veterinarian, or any other medical professional who you would like to receive a copy of your tick test laboratory results. A full copy of your lab report will be faxed to this number immediately once your results have been finalized.
TickCheck offers tick testing services as discounted panels ranging from $49.99 to $199.99, and as individual tests for $49.99 each. The panels simplify the decision and keep prices low.
- The Basic Panel will test for the top 4-6 pathogens most relevant to your tick species. Priced at $49.99
- The Advanced Panel will test for the top 10-13 pathogens most relevant to your tick species. Priced at $99.99
- The Comprehensive Diagnostic Panel for all pathogens relevant to your tick species. Priced at $199.99
Panels (grouped tests) are the most cost-efficient way to test your tick for the most commonly found tick borne diseases. If you only want to test your tick for one or two specific diseases, you can order your tests individually by contacting us directly. Otherwise, see the TickCheck order form.Get Started
Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases
It's important to identify the species of tick that bit you, because different tick species commonly carry different diseases. To help you identify your tick, TickCheck has a handy tick identification guide.
If you can't identify your tick yourself, you may upload a photograph, and we will identify it free of charge.
Of course, when you submit a tick for testing, our lab technicians will identify your tick as part of the testing process, anyways.Get Started Here
Tick-borne diseases are transmitted to the host as the tick feeds. The longer a tick is attached the higher the chance of transmitting disease, so the likelihood of being infected by a tick that just recently attached is relatively low. The more engorged a tick has become, the longer the tick has likely been embedded and the higher the chance of disease transmission.
Scientific studies have shown that Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease) usually requires 18-24 hours to be transmitted from tick to host and that Rickettsia rickettsii (Rocky Mountain spotted fever) usually requires at least six. Transmission periods to humans are not definitive.
No. Real-time PCR testing tests the DNA of the tick, and can be done successfully days or even weeks after the tick has bitten you. The tick does not have to be alive or even intact, but the integrity of the tick's DNA could be compromised if it was burned.
While we can test ticks at any time after they were removed from the host, the sooner you can send us the tick the better. The symptoms of many tick-borne diseases take several weeks to develop, and a prompt tick test can provide the information you and your doctor need to decide on pre-emptive treatment options even before symptoms occur.
PCR tick testing requires us to have a tick to test. If you threw away, lost, or destroyed the tick we will not be able to do a laboratory tick test. In this case, your best option is to monitor the bitten individual closely for symptoms of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, and visit your doctor immediately for a blood test if any symptoms start to develop. Remember to save ticks in a small plastic baggie in the future so you have the option of getting the tick tested.
TickCheck provides a variety of free resources about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
No. The allergy comes from the saliva of the lone star tick and not a specific infectious agent. Even if the tick has no infection, you are still at risk for developing an allergy to red meat.
If you are concerned you may have developed a meat allergy due to a lone star tick bite, make sure to contact your allergist to discuss available options.
TickCheck Billing and Administrative FAQ
Yes, TickCheck accepts payments via check or money order made payable to "TickCheck LLC" for the full amount of your test fees. Just choose Check or Money Order in the "Billing & Payment" section of the TickCheck order form, and include your payment in the same envelope with your tick and order receipt.
Unfortunately, we are unable to accept insurance payments for tick testing services. If your insurance provider offers reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses, you may be able to have your testing fees covered but TickCheck is unable to guarantee or assist in the process.
TickCheck.com takes all necessary precautions to keep all of your personal information safe and secure. Although tick testing results are not considered medical records, TickCheck is fully HIPAA compliant out of an abundance of caution. Our website supports 128-bit TLS 1.3 SSL encryption, and all online payments are securely processed by Stripe.
If you need to check the status of your test, you can use our automated Test Status Lookup Tool 24/7 to see how your tests are progressing. Please only contact us to ask about your test status if you never received confirmation that we received your mailed tick, or if it has been over four days since we received the tick and you have not received a status update.
If you have another question about your order or our tick testing services, TickCheck offers phone support at 1-866-713-TICK during regular business hours (9-5; Mon-Fri). You can also email a support request at any time with the TickCheck Support Request Form. We will get back to you as quickly as possible.
We can cancel your order anytime before we've received and processed your tick. We will refund you the full charge amount for any reason. To do so, simply reach out to the support team at 1-866-713-TICK during regular business hours (9-5; Mon-Fri). You can also email a support request at any time with the TickCheck Support Request Form. We will get back to you as quickly as possible.
Note: it will take 5-10 days to for the credit to appear on your statement.
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