Instructions for Submitting Ticks for Laboratory Testing
The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has partnered with the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) DNA Identity/Lyme Disease Laboratory to test ticks for disease agents in the Borrelia, Ehrlichia, and Rickettsia genera using molecular methods. Ticks must first be submitted to the DSHS Zoonosis Control office for identification after which they will be forwarded to UNTHSC for testing. There is no charge for testing, however this service is available only to Texas residents submitting specimens from a Texas address. Submissions received from outside of Texas will not be tested and will not be returned to the submitter.
1. Only ticks that were attached to a human host may be submitted for testing. Do not submit ticks removed from animals.
2. When handling or removing ticks, use forceps or tweezers. If you use your hands, wear disposable gloves or shield your fingers with a paper towel or other suitable material. When removing ticks from a person, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. DO NOT twist or jerk the tick, as this may cause the mouthparts to break off, leaving them embedded in the skin.
3. Carefully place the tick(s) into a sturdy, leak-proof container or screw cap vial. Ticks may be submitted live or preserved in 70% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol. DO NOT preserve ticks in formalin, as this chemical will interfere with laboratory testing. Place ticks from different persons/collection sites into separate vials, marking each vial with appropriate identifying information so that each can be matched to its corresponding tick submission form.
1. Completely fill out a Texas Tick Submission Form (PDF) for each vial or container of ticks submitted. You may download the PDF form here.
2. Place the vial(s), sufficiently padded if breakable, and the accompanying Tick Submission Form(s) into a mailing tube and mail to the appropriate address below, depending on the shipping method:
If sending via U.S. Mail: If sending via UPS/FedEx/Etc.
Department of State Health Services Department of State Health Services
ATTN: Zoonosis Control - MC 1956 ATTN: Zoonosis Control – MC 1956
P.O. Box 149347 1100 W 49th St
Austin, TX 78714-9347 Austin, TX 78756
Identification and Testing
1. DSHS Zoonosis Control personnel will identify all ticks to species, stage of development, and state of engorgement.
2. DSHS Zoonosis Control personnel will forward the identified ticks to the UNTHSC laboratory for testing.
3. All ticks will be tested for the presence of pathogenic agents from the Borrelia, Ehrlichia, and Rickettsia genera. All positives will be further identified to the species and, where applicable, to the subspecies and/or strain.
1. DSHS Zoonosis Control personnel will communicate test results to the original submitter, usually within 2 – 3 weeks of receiving the specimen(s).
DSHS Central Office: