Tick Identification

To combat the threat of tick-borne diseases to residents, the Tick-borne Diseases Program of the Monmouth County Mosquito Control Division provides the service of Tick Identification as part of an on-going research program. 2017 Tick Identification Service update.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can use this service?
What will it cost?
How do I remove a tick?
How do I submit a tick?
What information can you tell me about my tick?
How long does it take?
Does my tick carry Lyme disease bacteria?
What other diseases could my tick carry?
Will the Tick ID results tell me if I have a disease?
Can I get my tick tested?


Who can use this service?
Only residents of Monmouth County, New Jersey are eligible

What will it cost?
Tick Identification is free.

How do I remove a tick?
The best way to remove attached ticks is to grasp the tick with fine-tipped tweezers as close to the skin as possible; then pull straight up with a slow, steady force. Try to avoid crushing the tick or destroying it in any way. Clean the area of tick attachment with an antiseptic. Attached ticks should not be removed with noxious chemicals or by burning. This may cause injury to the skin and can increase the risk of transmission by causing the tick to regurgitate disease causing organisms into the body. Removed ticks can be saved in any sealed container to be later identified and tested. Do not place ticks in tape! This makes subsequent identification and testing difficult.

How do I submit a tick?
Ticks must be submitted in person at the Monmouth County Mosquito Control Division at 1901 Wayside Rd., Tinton Falls NJ 07724, between the hours of 8:15 a.m. and 4 p.m. only. You can submit them in any sealed container, such as a small Tupperware or Ziploc bag, and it does not matter if they are alive or dead. You will need to fill out a submission form with your contact information and details (to the best of your knowledge) about where the tick was found and how it was acquired. Ticks will not be processed without a signed submission form. Printed copies of the form are available when you bring in your tick.

What information can you tell me about my tick?
The following information is given free of charge:

  • Tick species: Different tick species can transmit different disease causing organisms, therefore knowing the species involved may alert you or your physician to watch for symptoms of specific disease(s).
  • Tick development stage & gender: Different genders and stages of a tick (i.e., larva, nymph, adult) may be more or less likely to be infected with and/or transmit a disease-causing organism.
  • Tick engorgement level: Engorgement level (how much blood it has taken in, i.e. whether flat, partially engorged, or fully engorged) is a relative indication of how long the tick was attached and feeding.  The longer a tick is attached, the greater the risk that it may transmit a disease organism.  For example, in the case of Lyme disease, at least 24 hours is usually required before the tick can effectively transmit the pathogen. 

How long does it take?
Tick Identification reports (species, development stage/gender, and engorgement level) are typically sent to you 1-2 days after submitting your tick. However, this can vary based on submission volume and time of year. Please inquire at the time of submission to be sure you have the most up to date information regarding time table.

Does my tick carry Lyme disease bacteria? 
Only black-legged ticks (“deer ticks”) can transmit the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. If your tick is identified as a black-legged tick, your risk of being exposed depends on several factors, including the life stage of the tick (nymphs and adult females are more likely to transmit), and how long the tick was attached (Lyme disease bacteria are more likely to be transmitted if the tick was feeding on you for 24+ hours, see above). However, regardless of tick ID results, if you develop any symptoms of Lyme disease you should see a physician.

What other diseases could my tick carry? 
While Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne illness in Monmouth County, black-legged ticks can transmit other diseases, as can other species of ticks. See which ones in the table below. Click here for more information about ticks and tick-borne disease. 

Types of Ticks found in New Jersey
 

Will Tick ID results tell me if I have a disease?
Results can provide information that may help you and your doctor in making diagnostic and treatment decisions. HOWEVER, THEY CANNOT TELL YOU WHETHER YOU HAVE A DISEASE. The identification and analysis of a submitted tick does not rule out the possibility that you may have had other undetected tick bites. Symptoms should never be ignored based on these results. If you think you may have contracted a tick-borne disease contact your physician.  He or she will be the most qualified to discuss diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne disease.
 
Can I get my tick tested?
As of March 1, 2017, Monmouth County will no longer be testing individual submitted ticks. This program change is to make way for a new countywide active tick surveillance program that will provide spatial and temporal risk information to county residents. We believe the new program will better serve residents by helping to prevent tick-borne disease exposures.

We will continue to provide tick identification services at no charge, and this information is just as useful to physicians as tick testing results. However, residents wishing to have their tick tested can still contract with a number of private labs that perform this service. Read the 2017 Tick Identification service update to obtain a list of private labs that serve the general public.

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