Barnstable County Officials Encourage Cape Codders to Get Ticks Tested

HYANNIS – The risk of tick bites remains high during the summer season and Barnstable County officials are encouraging residents and visitors to get the arachnids tested.

Barnstable County Entomologist Larry Dapsis said residents can send ticks to be tested by UMass Amherst’s Laboratory of Medical Zoology to see if they were possibly exposed to any pathogens.

“Basically, for Cape Cod residents for the price of a pizza you get some good data,” Dapsis said.

The “Send a Tick to College” program has been marketed by Barnstable County for several years.

Cape Cod residents only pay $15 to have a tick tested instead of the regular price of $50 thanks to a contribution from Cape Cod Healthcare.

The health care organization provided funding to keep the cost at $15 after grant funding for the program expired.

“Cape Cod Healthcare stepped up to the plate because they see value in this service,” Dapsis said.

According to Dapsis, the county has sent 3,000 ticks to college as part of its surveillance research.

He said the process to submit a tick for testing is simple.

Visit the lab’s website at tickreport.com.

“Unlike the human blood tests for Lyme [disease], which is pretty unreliable, this test on the tick is 99.9 percent accurate,” Dapsis said.

Dapsis said getting the results back if you may have been bitten can provide a few benefits.

He said a negative test can provide peace of mind.

A positive test can also provide useful information to a primary care physician if you come down with an illness a few weeks after getting bitten by a tick.

“For the doctor, it gives them a guide post for maybe what are the range of things I should be looking at in my patient for a more accurate evaluation,” Dapsis said.

The county has received a lot of positive feedback from residents who have submitted a tick for testing.

Cape Cod Healthcare has committed to funding the program to allow for the discounted rate of $15 through at least 2020.

Dapsis said it is important for people to get a tick tested and not to dispose of it down a sink, toilet or in the garbage.

“You are destroying evidence, unfortunately,” he said.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the CapeCod.com NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.



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