DOD Human Tick Test Kit Program

Monday, August 8, 2016

What is it?

The Department of Defense (DOD) Human Tick Test Kit Program helps combat the threat of tick-borne diseases to DOD personnel. The Army Public Health Center (Provisional) (APHC (P)) provides a tick identification and testing service for military health clinics/health care providers. This is a free service and it serves as a ‘first alert’ for tick-bite patients and their health care providers.

The APHC (P) provides clinics/health care providers with ‘tick test kits’ upon request. Each kit consists of instructions, a vial for the tick specimen, a submission form, and a preaddressed envelope for mailing the specimen back to the APHC Tick-Borne Disease Laboratory.

What has the Army done?

The DOD Human Tick Test Program has been in place and expanding since 1989. The Tick-Borne Disease Laboratory uses DNA technology known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to analyze ticks for evidence of infection with the agents of several tick-borne diseases. Live, as well as dead, ticks are tested. The DOD Human Tick Test Kit Program served as a ‘first alert’ for tick-bite patients and their health care providers, to combat the spread of tick-borne disease.

What continued efforts are planned for the future?

Army public health professionals will continue to identify and test ticks for DOD health clinics in the continental United States to help combat the threat of tick-borne diseases to DOD personnel. Additionally, APHC will continue to offer information and educational materials regarding ticks, tick-borne diseases, tick removal, and personal protective techniques.

Why is this important to the Army?

Different tick species transmit different pathogens, and since most tick-borne illnesses exhibit identical early symptoms, tick species and infection status may be useful to the physician in evaluating and monitoring the patient’s health, and in making diagnostic and treatment determinations.

Lyme and other diseases transmitted by ticks represent an occupational health risk, adversely impacting military readiness and the health of military dependents and surrounding communities. Readiness of the force is the Army’s number one priority.

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