Free Tick Identification: How URI’s Program Can Help You Stay Safe

Thomas Mather

The title of the post speaks for itself. This post is all about knowing how to identify whether a tick is dangerous or not. In this post, you will understand why it is important to identify different distinguishing features of a tick to stay safe.

We are all grossed out by creatures such as ticks, spiders, and scorpions. Our body has an automated defense mechanism that continually reminds us to stay clear of ticks and their cousins and reminds us that their close proximity is not safe.

Now you may ask: If I am so creeped out by ticks, then why and how am I supposed to take pictures of them? The answer to that is pretty simple. You need it! You need it to acquire as much information as you can on the arachnid that has bitten you. Or, if you want, you can take the tick itself to a doctor. But, there is some question about how much a doctor can actually help you with tick identification.  More on that later.

The University of Rhode Island (URI) has a unique program called the Tick Encounter Resource Center which allows you to submit a picture of the tick that has bitten you. Afterward, they analyze the tick pic and let you know whether it may carry some sort of disease. It is a pretty handy tool considering how useless conventional doctors are when it comes to identifying a tick and the potential diseases it may carry. The URI program usually gets back to you within two to three days via email and they provide you with a custom report that is specially curated for your tick. The report is extremely specific in that it includes the type of tick, the gender of the tick, and the duration of which you were exposed to it.

It is critical to know the species, gender, and duration of exposure to the tick. Knowing the duration of exposure is important because to get Lyme disease, for example, the tick needs to feed on you for 24 to 36 hours. But, you can get infected by other tick-related diseases or allergies like Ehrlichia within 6 hours, or you can immediately contract the alpha-gal meat allergy. The Alpha-gal meat allergy can result in death by anaphylactic shock as the reaction can occur hours after ingesting red meat.        

The greatest part of the Tick Encounter Resource Center is that the service they provide is free of charge!

When you submit your case, they will ask you a series of questions including—

  • how you were bitten 
  • the geographical location where you have been bitten 
  • the potential age of the tick
  • The photo of the tick 

This query helps them to pinpoint your problem and provide more accurate results. When you subscribe, they give you an ID through an autoresponder. The autoresponder will also give you valuable materials that include—

  • Educational material on ticks 
  • How to protect yourself from Lyme disease and other tick-related diseases

One thing worth mentioning is that the study material they link to in the final report will connect you to the URI Tick Encounter website and is written in high-level language with a lot of medical and biological jargon. So, don’t get overwhelmed by the way it has been written because the materials are full of information!         

A single tick bite can ruin you as well as your family’s life (check out our Tick Bite Blueprint). Don’t let an insect destroy your life. Educate yourself with proper knowledge and take the necessary precautions that I just discussed to save yourself and your loved ones. The University of Rhode Island Tick Encounter Program is a good (and free) first step in the educational process.