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UMaine Cooperative Extension Takes on State’s Identification Program with New Tick ID Lab

Tick Lab

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension is the new home of the state’s tick identification program. Portland’s Maine Medical Center, which handled the program for 25 years, eliminated the service last December due to funding deficits.

UMaine Extension’s Insect and Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab, which identifies 3,000 plant, pest and insect species each year, will expand its services to compensate for Maine Medical Center’s cut by creating the Tick ID Lab. The lab is expected to receive up to 1,300 additional tick specimens this year.

“It’s going to give the people a much better awareness of ticks and how to avoid ticks in the first place. That’s the big thing this portion of our lab will do,” says Jim Dill, pest management specialist at Cooperative Extension.

Last year, Maine had 1,349 confirmed cases of Lyme disease — a statistic that Dill says is increasing every year. By opening the Tick ID Lab to citizens as well as the usual doctors and veterinarians, Dill believes the lab can help provide peace of mind to Maine citizens.

The Tick ID Lab can help clients determine if they need to seek help from doctors. There are 14 tick species in Maine, not all of which carry disease. Dill adds the Tick ID Lab can help determine if the submitted tick is one of the disease-free species helping “ease your mind or the mind of your doctor.”

Tick identifications cost $10 — to cover supply costs — and can be submitted in person, by mail or through photos on the lab’s new website. The site also provides information on preventative protection from ticks, tick biology, tick removal and more.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

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