Free tick testing service able to continue after second $500,000 grant

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STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A unique tick testing lab in the Poconos provides free services for Pennsylvania residents thanks to state funding.

But that funding is running out fast since the free testing is so popular. The lab was recently awarded another $500,000. That money will cover about 8,000 additional tick tests.

Nicole Chinnici runs the Dr. Jane Huffman Wildlife Genetics Institute inside East Stroudsburg University’s Innovation Center.

“We’re the only tick testing lab in Pennsylvania,” Chinnici said.

Basic tick testing became free for Pennsylvania residents on April 1 thanks to a $500,000 state grant. But the money is running out fast. Since April, the lab has tested more than 5,000 Pennsylvania ticks.

“I wasn’t very surprised, since Pennsylvania is the leading state for Lyme disease cases and our residents are always exposed to ticks. But, I was surprised by how fast residents got word of this free state funding and how fast we were able to get those ticks in,” Chinnici said.

This time of year, ticks are actually much smaller, about the size of a poppy seed.

“So you really have to keep an eye out,” Chinnici said.

Chinnici says without free testing, many people probably wouldn’t submit ticks.

“It’s really important because it’s not only giving you early exposure information to explain what you’ve been exposed to, but it’s also letting the state of Pennsylvania know where our ticks are being found and what common ticks we’re seeing,” Chinnici said.

Thanks to the second round of funding, the lab can test about 16,000 ticks in total. Although basic tick testing is currently free for Pennsylvania residents, a more comprehensive panel does cost money.

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