If you have been anywhere in the Maine woods it is likely you’ve encountered a tick. The Internet, word of mouth, and general hysteria have created plenty of misinformation about how Lyme disease is transmitted from a tick to a person.

One problem for many Mainers has been finding an affordable and reliable way to test an embedded tick to ease one’s mind of worry over dreaded Lyme. Many folks send their ticks to the University of Maine where experts will only identify a tick, but not test it for Lyme. Other folks will pay a $65 fee to have a tick tested in a laboratory in Massachusetts, but this can be an expensive and timely cost for many families.

Enter the Bay Area Lyme Foundation located at the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. Here is the mission according to their website:

Our goal at Bay Area Lyme Foundation is to provide individuals with free, timely information as to whether a tick they have encountered is — an infected or uninfected tick. By sending us your tick(s) you are participating in a citizen science project and national tick-collection/testing effort which will enable our scientists to compare past and potential future distributions of ticks and tick-borne disease. Our hope is that by collecting this data, we may be able to predict where risk of disease is most common. This program is not intended for clinical decisions or as a diagnostic tool.

To send your tick to this facility, click here for the downloadable order form. Simply fill out the form, follow the instructions for how to pack the tick, pop it in the mail and in approximately 21 days you will have a response that includes the identity of the tick and whether or not it was a carrier of Lyme disease.

For more information on Lyme disease check out Maine Lyme, which is a 501(c)3 non-profit that seeks to educate, prevent, and support families dealing with Lyme disease.

For instructions on how to properly remove a tick, check out this video from the University of Manitoba.