Know the Tick that Bit You this Tick Season

Sandra Lee Headshot

By Sandra Lee, CEO, NJ Labs 

Welcome to tick season, which starts in April and lasts until October. Anyone who has spent a lot of time outdoors, has probably encountered a tick before, either personally or with your pet. Although the deer tick species that carries Lyme disease is commonly found in the Northeastern part of the country, other tick species also exist all across the United States and those species are known to carry different types of tick-borne diseases as well. With increased travel and popularity of outdoor activities, fueled by the pandemic, ticks have become a major health concern for everyone. Symptoms from tick bites can easily be confused with virus-like symptoms, or even respiratory ailments, so if you are experiencing headaches, fever, fatigue, chills and muscle aches, don’t rule out that you may have been bitten by a tick! 

Beware of Ticks

Ticks latch onto your skin and can stay on for days, sometimes without you ever noticing. You are at risk for tick bites if you:

  • Spend time in wooded or grassy areas;
  • Participate in outdoor activities;
  • Have an outdoor job;
  • Own a pet; and
  • Show a lot of skin when spending time outdoors. 

Ticks will attach easily to bare skin, so wearing long sleeves and pants will help protect you. After being outside you should always check your skin and your pet’s skin for ticks.

Tick Identification 

When most people think of tick bites, the first concern that comes to mind is Lyme disease. Although Lyme disease is the most well-known tick-borne pathogen, there are actually seven known species of ticks that bite and spread disease in the United States, including: 

Tick Testing

Finding a tick on your skin is step one and something you can do yourself, but knowing what the species of tick is requires species identification and testing. Most of the time when you find a tick on your skin, scheduling an appointment at a lab or doctor’s office right away can be challenging. This is where having a tick collection testing kit on hand in your home or as part of your first aid kit will be helpful. Our analytical testing lab, NJ Labs, created an easy-to-use tick collection testing kit called Tick SURE designed to give you the tools needed to safely extract and collect the tick, send it into the lab and then receive details on the tick that bit you so you would have information on your tick ready for when you visit your doctor or veterinarian.  

It is important to not wait too long to remove a tick as bacteria from the bite can enter your bloodstream. The Tick SURE kit will give you step-by-step instructions on how to safely extract the tick from the skin. The kit includes tweezers and directions on how to safely remove the tick. Removing the tick incorrectly can result in injuries, increased risk of disease transmission or damage to the tick sample, making it difficult to test. Never burn a tick off the skin as this will destroy the tick and make it untestable. Additionally burning a tick can actually spread the disease faster in your bloodstream.

After removing the tick, monitor the affected area for signs of infection or rashes. If tenderness or pain develops, seek medical attention immediately. NJ Labs is not a medical facility and our tests are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease because our testing is performed on the tick, not the pet or person. You should use Tick SURE in addition to consulting with your doctor or veterinarian to get the right diagnosis and treatment protocol for any tick bite. We recommend making an appointment with your doctor or veterinarian as soon as you send the tick to our lab, even if you are not noticing any symptoms from the tick bite, as symptoms can appear much later and it is best to seek medical consultation as soon as possible.

Once the tick arrives at our lab, we extract the tick’s DNA to identify the species using specialized DNA-based method testing, then test for the different pathogens it may carry. Not all ticks are infected with a disease, and just because a tick has a disease and bit you, does not mean you have the disease too. However, testing the tick as soon as possible is the best way to help your doctor or veterinarian decipher the correct protocol to treat any possible disease or infection that may be a threat to your health or your pet’s health.

Lab fees for walk-in testing can vary across the country, but can cost up to $200. In contrast, purchasing a Tick SURE kit in advance costs as little as $80. Plus having the tick collection testing kit available during vacations or weekends, when doctor’s appointments are not readily available, can provide peace of mind, allowing you to take swift action. NJ Labs is an FDA, DEA registered and inspected, ISO (17025:2017) approved, CGMP certified laboratory that has provided tick-testing services for more than 15 years. Learn more about tick identification and testing at our dedicated test tick site (where you can also purchase a kit): https://testticks.com and stay aware and safe this tick season! 

Biography: 

Sandra Lee is CEO of NJ Labs, a nationally recognized provider and advocate for quality in chemistry and microbiology testing that serves the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, dietary supplement, cosmetic, and cannabis/CBD industries. As a scientist and one of the few female CEOs in the analytical testing industry, she has a passion for chemistry and how it influences multiple aspects of our daily lives. Prior to leading NJ Labs, she worked in many scientific roles at both Cardinal Health and Pfizer where she recognized the importance of uncompromising quality through chemistry, not only from the company’s perspective, but also from the consumer’s perspective of product safety and public health needs. At NJ Labs she leads the privately owned FDA and DEA inspected facility that has been a mainstay in the testing industry for 85 years with a certified full-service contract analytical testing laboratory that follows strict Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations and holds ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accreditation. To help clients remain innovative and competitive while still meeting rigorous compliance requirements, Lee continues to expand the expertise of NJ Labs while developing quality systems grounded in transparency, integrity, and expertise. Lee is a graduate of the University of Michigan where she holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry.

About NJ Labs:

NJ Labs provides expert analytical chemistry and microbiology testing for the generic pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, dietary supplement, cosmetic, food, dairy and cannabis/CBD industries. Founded in 1936, NJ Labs is an establishment registered and inspected by FDA and DEA, as well as being an ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited contract laboratory testing in compliance with CGMP standards. The team of scientists is continually developing and validating methods for raw materials and finished products testing. NJ Labs is at the unique intersection between servicing dietary supplements and pharmaceutical drugs, which allows them to offer their clients a wide range of comprehensive testing and services.

To learn more about tick identification and testing, or to purchase a kit, go to: www.ticksure.com

Author Profile

The Editorial Team at Lake Oconee Health is made up of skilled health and wellness writers and experts, led by Daniel Casciato who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We aim to provide our readers with valuable insights and guidance to help them lead healthier and happier lives.