SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – It’s that time of year when you might pluck a few ticks off your body. A tick testing lab in the Poconos is flooded with submissions, and the data they’ve gathered so far may surprise you.
Nicole Chinnici runs East Stroudsburg University’s Pennsylvania Tick Research Center. Thanks to a $500,000 dollar state grant, the lab provides free, basic tick testing for all Pennsylvania residents.
“Which will cover the four most common diseases associated with your tick species,” Chinnici explains.
Before the grant took effect April 1st, basic testing cost about $100 dollars.
“So once you pull the tick off, within three days, you can find out what you’ve been exposed to. And that really helps guide your physicians with early diagnosis and treatment,” Chinnici explains.
Since April, 52-percent of submitted ticks have come back infected with some sort of disease.
Although that number may be startling to some, Chinnici says she isn’t surprised, since Pennsylvania is the leading state for ticks and tick-borne diseases.
She adds, “we’ve been the leading state since 2011.”
Since the grant took effect about two months ago, the lab has already tested about 3,000 ticks from all over Pennsylvania.
But Chinnici says the funding will run out after about 5,000 more tests.
Then, basic testing will once again cost money.
“We’re hoping that the state will re-issue the funding again starting July 1st, but we have to wait and hope that happens,“ Chinnici explains.
In addition to the current free, basic testing, you can upgrade to a full, comprehensive panel for $100 dollars. That is a subsidized rate, and covers all tick-borne diseases you could be exposed to.