Lab seeks ticks for Lyme disease study

Posted Oct. 29, 2010, at 11:50 a.m.
Last modified Nov. 06, 2010, at 1:16 p.m.

AUGUSTA – The Maine Medical Center Research Institute in partnership with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention  is expanding its efforts in northern and western Maine to track the spread of the ticks that may carry Lyme disease.

“We encourage submission of ticks from northern and western Maine to better map the location of deer ticks and to learn more about the spread of Lyme disease.” said Dr. Stephen Sears, state epidemiologist with the Maine CDC. “We need to gather more information from Aroostook, Piscataquis, Penobscot, Somerset, Franklin and Oxford counties.”

For 20 years, the Vector-borne Disease Laboratory at the Scarborough research institute has tracked the spread of deer ticks throughout the state, creating maps of how Lyme Disease is spreading.

“Residents, veterinarians, and physicians who find ticks should send them to [the  laboratory] for identification,” said Dr. Peter Rand of the Vector-borne Disease Laboratory.  “The information gained through this program can help identify new areas of the state that may be at increased risk of Lyme disease.”

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is carried by deer ticks. Cases increase each year and occur in all 16 Maine counties.  Although the majority of Lyme disease cases occur in the summer, adult deer ticks are prevalent in the fall, so the risk remains present. The deer tick is the only tick in Maine that can transmit the Lyme bacterium. Lyme disease, named after the town in Connecticut where it first appeared, brings painful, often debilitating symptoms, ranging from headaches to joint pain and fatigue.

To submit ticks for identification: 1) Capture the tick in a small, water-tight and crush-proof bottle with rubbing alcohol, and 2) send the tick to the address below along with your name, address, phone number, date and town the tick was found.

Vector-borne Disease Laboratory

Maine Medical Center Research Institute

75 John Roberts Road, Suite 9B

South Portland, ME 04106

Instructions and a submission form can be downloaded from MMCRI’s website at

The Maine CDC recommends following the “No Ticks 4 ME” approach:  Wear protective clothing; use insect repellent; perform daily tick checks; and use caution in places where ticks can be found.