Cape Cod Healthcare Grant to Help Tick Testing Program Continue

BARNSTABLE – A program that allows people to send ticks to the labs at UMass Amherst will continue, thanks to some local funding.

The TickReport service was recently subsidized for $30,000 by Cape Cod Healthcare (CCH). The service has been available since 2009 at a price of $50 per test. Now, that price is $15, and even includes another virus in the test.

Barnstable County Entomologist Larry Dapsis studies the insects, and said that a bite doesn’t necessarily mean the victim will contract a disease.

However, he said the addition of a test for Powassan virus in the current service could help those bitten identify a potentially deadly condition sooner.

“It can be a very serious disease, a typical symptom is swelling of the brain tissue, and so it will put you in the hospital in a hurry,” he said.

ThirteenPowassan virus cases occurred in Massachusetts, including on Cape Cod, last year, he said.

The benefits of testing for all tick-borne diseases, he said, are especially relevant for out-of-towners who are bit.

People who visit from areas of the country where Lyme disease and other illnesses aren’t as common may have a difficult time identifying the problem when they consult with their doctors back home.

“This test provides a person hard data they can show to their doctor,” he said.

The process begins online at tickreport.com, where users submit information and then commence with sending the tick which bit them in a plastic bag to the lab in Amherst.

He said that users will have results back in three days after the lab receives the shipment.

The service is being billed as the “Send a Tick to College” program.

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