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Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include high fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans.
The Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, is spread through the bite of infected ticks. On the Pacific Coast, the western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) may carry Lyme disease. In the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central United States, the blacklegged tick (or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis) may carry Lyme disease.
Ticks can attach to any part of the human body, but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. In most cases, the tick must be attached for at least 24 to 36 hours before the Lyme disease bacterium is transmitted.
Most humans are infected through the bites of immature ticks called nymphs. Nymphs are tiny (less than 2 mm) and difficult to see; they feed during the spring and summer months. Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme disease bacteria, but they are much larger and are more likely to be discovered and removed before they have had time to transmit the bacteria. Adult Ixodes pacificus ticks are most active during the cooler months of the year.
Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.
Ticks not known to transmit Lyme disease include the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), the Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) and the Lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum).
Tick Testing at the Napa-Solano-Yolo-Marin County Public Health Laboratory
Tick identification and testing for the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi are services available to the public. Only Ixodes species ticks are tested by the laboratory for the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, because these are the only ticks that have been shown to be able to infect a host with Borrelia burgdorferi upon blood-feeding. The laboratory does not test Dermacentor species ticks for the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi. Scientific studies have shown that Dermacentor species ticks are not competent vectors for transmitting Lyme disease.
To use tick testing services, you will need to submit the specimen, a requisition, and a form of payment either by mail or at a drop-off location. The links below contain additional instructions on submission. If submitting an online payment, please ensure that the receipt number is written clearly on the requisition as proof of payment. Please refer to the options menu for drop-off locations.
Tick Testing Information, Requisition Form, & Online Payments
1. Tick Testing Requisition Form
2. Tick Removal and Collection Information
3. Tick FAQs
4. Information on the IFA test for Lyme Disease
5. Tick Testing Interpretation Information
6. Online Tick Payments
For additional information please refer to:
1. Adult female, Ixodes species tick (can transmit Lyme disease). 2. Adult male, Dermacentor species tick.