A new program of testing has been commenced at the Laboratory of Medical Zoology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, funded by an $111,000 Governor’s Community Innovation Challenge grant. Not only will the ticks be tested for Lyme disease, they’ll also be tested for babesiosis and anaplasmosis, two co-infections of Lyme that have been on the rise in the area.
Cape Cod has Half of All Babesiosis Cases in the State
In 2012 there were 438 confirmed or probable cases of Lyme disease on the Cape and Islands, 103 cases of babesiosis (which accounted for about half of the state total for this disease that year), and 43 cases of anaplasmosis (about a fifth of the statewide number).
The tick-testing program covers 32 towns in the regions of Barnstable, Nantucket, Middlesex and Franklin counties but the number of ticks to be tested from each town is being capped at 100 so get your tick in early if you’re bitten! Prepaid mailing envelopes are expected to be available from health care providers in April.
Save $140 on tick-testing!
Test results will usually be available within a week of sending in the tick(s), and the data from the program will be used to inform public healthy policy and awareness. The combined tick tests for these three infections would usually cost $140 and this is the first time that regional surveillance of ticks has been funded by the state of Massachussetts.
If you miss out on sending in your tick then rest assured that The Cape and Islands Cooperative Extension will still be running their usual tick-dragging program at 14 sites across the Cape and Islands. These ticks are then sent to the same laboratory for testing. If you’re not in Cape Cod then there are other ways to get your ticks tested.
The program’s coordinators stress that tick testing is no replacement for getting a medical diagnosis of Lyme disease or other condition from a physician. What they hope to do is to make people in the area more aware of the prevalence of ticks and hotspots in Cape Cod.