ESU’s Northeast Wildlife DNA Laboratory Becomes Only Location in Monroe County for Tick Identification

Posted by: Valentina Caval on July 13, 2015, No Comments

People who spend their time outdoors and trekking through the woods as the weather warms up can ease their minds when it comes to ticks spreading diseases. East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania’s Northeast Wildlife DNA Laboratory continues to provide tick testing for Lyme disease, tick identification, and the length of time the tick has been attached. Recently the laboratory became the only location in the area to do so, following the suspension of the Tick Identification Program at Monroe County Vector Control.

From Lyme-Aid kit testing to accepting walk-ins and utilizing online services, ESU’s DNA Laboratory has the technology and personnel to identify tick borne pathogens. How does tick testing work? The tick is tested for an infectious agent using a sensitive DNA based screening technique known as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).

“We extract the DNA from the tick and add specific primers to test for each pathogen. These primers amplify the DNA regions so we can visually see the DNA on an agarose gel,” said Nicole Chinnici M’14, forensic scientist at the DNA Lab. If the pathogen was present in the tick, it will be detected on the gel under UV light.

Three ticks are common to the Northeast United States: deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease, lone star ticks, which carry Ehrlichiosis and American dog ticks, which carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Experts at the DNA Lab can identify the tick species. If it is a deer tick, the Laboratory can determine the length of time the tick has been attached.

Identifying the tick and determining how long it has been attached is free of charge at the DNA Laboratory. The cost of the tick test for Lyme disease is $50. Testing for the combination of Lyme, Ehrlichia, Babesia and Bartonella is $175. Testing results are typically provided in seven business days. For online services complete the tick submission form at http://www.esu.edu/academics/departments/biology/ddlab and send the form with the tick sample to the Northeast Wildlife DNA Laboratory, 562 Independence Road, Suite 114, East Stroudsburg, Pa. 18301. Lyme-Aid kits can be purchased at https://www.lymeaidkit.com/

The Laboratory is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information contact, Meaghan Butler at 570-422-7892 or mbutler11@esu.edu.