Lab Reports Influx Of Ticks For Disease Testing

Jul 3, 2017

Massachusetts public health officials said it's too early to tell if cases of tick-born diseases are on the rise this year. But one lab  is reporting a different type of increase -- they've tested more ticks in the first half of this year than they did in all of 2016

Stephen Rich, who leads the "Tick Report" service at UMass Amherst, said while the percentage turning up positive for illnesses like Lyme Disease has remained the same, having more ticks to test makes it hard to tell if there's more cases of disease.

"Some people have spent a lot of time saying it's going to be a big tick year," Rich said. "So people are more acutely aware of ticks, looking for ticks on their person, they're more aware of the risks. We don't know if the more samples really reflect if that there are more ticks out there, or that more people are finding their ticks."

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said it could take several months to tell if there's an increase in tick-born disease this year, as they must follow up with patients on an individual basis.