Tick Tests – Home and Laboratory Testing

Lyme disease tick test careplusHome-testing kits are available to test ticks for Borrelia bacteria but these have not been approved in most countries and offer no guarantee of reliability.  Laboratory testing of ticks is also available in the UK and the US with the tick sent in a suitable container to the laboratory with payment for testing.  In general, laboratory testing of a single tick costs around $70, although some laboratories will offer testing of multiple ticks for a similar price.

The Lyme Borreliose Tick Test is becoming popular with those in the UK who spend considerable time outdoors as it may offer peace of mind to those who are encountering ticks frequently.  The test is a lateral flow test similar to the design of a home pregnancy test.  There is a test tube in the kit where the tick should be placed and then crushed with the wooden stick to mix it with the liquid provided.  A few drops of the liquid are then placed on the test cassette and twenty minutes later the test results should be available.  A positive result for the detection of Borrelia bacteria is indicated by two red lines across the cassette.


The manufacturers of the Lyme Borreliose Tick Test claim it has a 98% rate of accuracy in clinical testing but stress that a positive or negative result does not necessarily translate to the presence of absence of infection in the person bitten.  Where a positive result is obtained however, it is likely a good idea to seek medical consultation, particularly where the tick may have been in place for more than a day or two and definitely if symptoms of Lyme disease arise.

Home Tick-Test Costs for Lyme Disease

The home tick-test costs around £9 ($15) and other companies are beginning to develop similar kits as Lyme disease is increasingly recognized as an issue in the UK.  In the US, such tests are not widely available but laboratory tests, which usually use PCR techniques, can be obtained from Clongen ($75), Igenex, and Analytical Services Inc ($75). The problem with such tests is that the PCR technique employed is only usually looking for a specific Ly1 chromosomal gene outer surface protein A (OspA) in Borreli burgdorferi bacteria whereas more extensive PCR testing for other outer surface proteins may be more definitive.

Those in Europe who wish to get a tick tested for Borrelia bacteria can use the services of Borreliose Centrum in Germany, or get in touch with Bristol University who may test ticks removed from animals, such as your dog, for around £30 ($50).  Borreliose Centrum is a laboratory specializing in testing for tick-borne diseases and their PCR tests include Borrelia along with Rickettsia, Babesia, and Ehrlichia with all four tests available for around €100 ($140 including tax).  Different laboratories have different guidelines for how to send a tick, with some expressly advocating taping the tick to a piece of paper and some unable to test if this has happened.  Be sure to check the procedure for sending the tick(s) at whichever company you choose in order not to invalidate your Lyme disease tick test.


Resources

Home Tick-Test:

Lyme Borreliose Test from Care Plus (UK)

European Tick-Testing:

Borreliose Centrum (Germany)
Acarus Laboratory,  Bristol University (UK)

US Tick-Testing:

Clongen
Analytical Services Inc (USA)
Igenex (USA)