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​Tick Surveillance and Testing

DEP’s Tick Surveillance and Testing Program is responsible for conducting statewide active tick surveillance to determine the distribution, prevalence, and expansion of tick populations throughout the Commonwealth. In addition, the Vector Management Laboratory identifies, enumerates, and prepares ticks for pathogen testing. After the ticks are prepared, they are tested for pathogens that can impact human health. The pathogen list includes: Borrelia burgdorferi (causative agent of Lyme Disease), Anaplasma phagocytophilum (causative agent of Anaplasmosis), Babesia microti (causative agent of Babesiosis), Deer Tick Virus (Powassan Virus Lineage II), Borrelia miyamotoi (causative agent of Hard Tick Relapsing Fever), and Borrelia mayonii (causative agent of Lyme Disease).  

Due to their ability to transmit Lyme Disease and other tickborne illnesses the Program focuses mainly on Ixodes scapularis (Blacklegged or Deer Tick. Funding is provided to local mosquito control programs to conduct tick surveillance from April through August. During this time, DEP and county staff focus on the nymphal stage of the Blacklegged tick, however, other ticks are surveyed for in their respective habitats. Other ticks that are frequently collected include Dermacentor variabilis (American Dog tick), Amblyomma americanum (Lonestar tick), Haemaphysalis longicornis (Asian Longhorned tick), and Amblyomma maculatum (Gulf Coast tick). In the fall and winter DEP staff collect the adult stage of Blacklegged ticks. All Blacklegged ticks are collected in the field by dragging, sent to the lab for positive identification, and processed for molecular testing of pathogens.

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Image Source: CDC

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