The Town of Bedford, in partnership with 31 other Massachusetts communities, has been awarded a 2014 Community Innovation Challenge Grant to provide free tick-testing services to residents of partner towns by the UMass Laboratory of Medical Zoology (LMZ). Up to 100 ticks per community will be tested for free this year.
This means that if a tick bites you, as a resident of Bedford, you can submit that tick to the LMZ for free testing starting on April 1, 2014. The tick will be tested for the pathogens that lead to Lyme Disease, Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis (HGA) and Babesiosis and the results provided to you to share with your medical provider, if you choose. The findings of the testing are maintained anonymously and help local and state agencies build a surveillance database to better inform public health disease prevention programs and track tick-borne disease.
The cost for tick testing outside this program can be upwards of $140, so we are pleased to offer this service to Bedford residents at no cost for the coming year. Once the LMZ has performed free testing of 100 ticks from Bedford, a discounted testing rate will be offered.
We know that Lyme Disease is endemic in the area and is the most reported infectious disease in Bedford. Other tick-borne illnesses are on the rise. However, we also know that many times these diseases go unreported or undiagnosed, so we are hopeful that the testing results will be used by residents when visiting their medical providers.
If you should find a tick biting you, carefully remove it using tweezers and place it in a sealable plastic bag. The lab can analyze a tick submitted in almost any condition. Navigate your browser to www.TickDiseases.org, complete an online testing submittal form, write down the order number provided and send it in an envelope with the tick to the address indicated on the website.
Should you be bitten by a tick in the coming year, we hope you will take advantage of this free testing program. Should you have any questions or if you would like more information, please contact the Bedford Board of Health at 781-275-6507 or visit our website at www.bedfordma.gov/boh and click on the Tick Information link.