Tick Identification – Surveillance

Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

Test Requested Required Requisition(s) Specimen Type Minimum Volume Collection Kit

Tick Identification



Sterile, leak proof, polypropylene container

Submission and Collection Notes


There is no kit available for tick identification. Submit the tick specimen in a sterile, leak proof, polypropylene container. Do not use bags or envelopes.


Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.

  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
    Source: www.cdc.gov

Note that Public Health Ontario’s laboratory does not return back to sender any specimen submitted for tick identification.


PHO laboratory does not perform tick identification from ticks collected from non-human sources. Note that Public Health Ontario’s laboratory does not return back to sender any specimen submitted for tick identification.

Storage and Transport

Place specimen in a sealed container and close tightly. To avoid separation between the specimen container and the Surveillance Form, ensure both are placed in a sealed outer package such as a sealable bag.

Special Instructions

Please see Tick Submission and Testing FAQ below.

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

Turnaround time is up to 3 weeks, though during peak season it may be delayed.

Test Methods

Tick species are identified by Microscopy


Ticks that are identified as blacklegged ticks through passive surveillance are NO longer tested by the National Microbiology Laboratory for detection of human pathogens causing zoonotic infections, such as Lyme Disease through PCR. Refer to LAB-SD-146 Changes to Passive Tick Surveillance Program in Ontario for further information

As per Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) Guidelines for Lyme Disease, tick identification should not be used for diagnosis and management of Lyme Disease.


Results are reported to the ordering physician or health care provider as indicated on the requisition.

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Updated 24 Nov 2022