Cutter Lyme Disease Tick Test Kit Review

Cutter Lyme Disease Tick Test Review

The Cutter Lyme Disease Test Kit determines if a tick is a carrier of Lyme Disease. Rather than testing a person or pet, the test can be used to determine if a tick carries Lyme Disease before any symptoms occur. It identifies the DNA of the pathogen in the tick that causes Lyme Disease with 99.9% accuracy and provides critical information to doctors or veterinarians concerning treatment. By buying the kit ($29.95), you prepay for one test.

The Tick Test kit contains a tick remover, an alcohol wipe, a specimen bag, a test submission form, and a pre-addressed mailing label all contained in a handy little plastic box so you can take it with you on trips or store it in your car’s glove compartment if you’re bitten on a hike, fishing trip, or anytime you’re outdoors. It also contains instructions on how to remove a tick and package the sample and can be used even if it’s just part of a tick and not the entire parasite.

Test Kit Contents

When you send the test kit in, Cutter’s lab tests for the presence of Borellia burgdoferi, which is the causative agent of Lyme Disease. You can include up to 5 ticks in the submission, all from one person or pet. You can also have the lab test for other bacterial, protozoal, or virus pathogens for an added fee. The results come back fast, via email or a text message, within 3 days of the sample’s receipt.

Sample Use

I recently ended up in the Emergency Room because I felt a big wound on my back and didn’t know what had caused it. I couldn’t see it and didn’t have much sensation back there, but I could feel that there was something hanging off my back. It turns out it was an engorged tick that had been feasting on my blood for a few days. I have no idea how it got there because I’m very careful when it comes to insect protection and wear Insect Shield or Permethrin-treated clothing whenever I go outside. This was my first tick bite ever!

The Tick that bit me, ready to send in.

The ER doctor prescribed a series of antibiotics for me to prevent Lyme disease, just in case, and the hospital drew blood to send off to a lab, telling me “No news is good news. If we don’t call you, then you didn’t get Lyme.” I never did hear from them (and there are no entries in my electronic medical chart), but I don’t know if that’s because I did test negative or because there was some bureaucratic screwup. I have a VERY low level of trust when it comes to the modern medical industrial complex.

So, I decided I’d do my own due diligence by sending the removed tick to Cutters to test whether “my tick” had been a Lyme carrier. While I am confident that the antibiotics will protect me from contracting Lyme, I knew I’d feel better by having all the facts. So I packed up my Tick (the ER gave it to me in a specimen jar) and sent it into the Cutter’s lab for testing.

Sending my Tick to the Lab
Sending my Tick to the Lab

Tick Identification

It took a few days for my tick to arrive at the lab, but they promptly sent me a confirmation email when they received it. They also told me that my tick was an American dog tick, which is more information than I’d have previously. This made it possible for me to look up the other diseases that American dog ticks carry to see whether I was at risk of getting one of them and whether the antibiotic I’m taking, Doxycycline, protects me against those as well.

In addition to Lyme, the American dog tick also can carry Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Tularemia. My antibiotic protects me from all of those, which is again much more information than I ever received from the medical establishment.

Test Report

A day later I got the official test report in the email which told me that my tick did not carry Lyme Disease.

Tick Test result

Recommendation

The Cutter Lyme Disease Tick Test Kit can be used to test if a tick that’s bitten you or your dog carries Lyme Disease or a host of other bacterial or viral diseases. While that alone isn’t enough to confirm a diagnosis, it is valuable information that can guide treatment decisions. It can also provide you with peace of mind, knowing that any treatment you have received covers the potential set of illnesses that you may incur. Lastly, it’s a low-cost and very efficient way (unlike the US healthcare system) that provides clear, timely, and concise information for you to manage your own care.

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28 comments

  1. You really do need to be your own advocate as far as medical care is concerned. If this ER is associated with a medical group that you regularly use, I’d see if there is a patient ombudsman and express your concern to them. No news is good news is an unacceptable approach to medical testing. If a test is run, there will be a result – in this case a detect or non-detect. You patient record should have contained an entry for the Lyme test as well as a result of “non-detect”. (I work in the environmental industry and can assure you that we do not delete negative laboratory results from our project records.) Based on your described experience, there is no evidence that is available to you that indicates that the test was ever even run.

    I’d also recommend that you ask your physician to prescribe a single dose of 200 mg of doxycycline to keep in your first aid kit. Numerous studies have shown that taking a single 200 mg dose can reduce the risk of Lyme infection from a tick bite when taken within 72 hours of tick removal. Info from the CDC is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/tickbornediseases/tick-bite-prophylaxis.html

    My doctor gives me a new prescription each year at the time of my annual physical. The total cost is under $3.

  2. You can also send your tick to Thangamani Labs at SUNY Medical and have it tested for free. I just did this and it was prompt and easy to do.

  3. I knew there were labs where you could send a tick for analysis/testing but I wasn’t aware Cutter was making it easy by providing everything needed in one convenient package.

    Thanks for the review!

  4. I love these tests!!! I used one this spring. I quickly found out that the engorged tick I found was a deer tick. On the advice of a friend who tests for tick diseases in the lab at Dartmouth Hitchcock, I opted for the second level of testing. My friend tells me that many of the other diseases have become very common in NH. Fortunately for me, my tick was negative for everything, so my story ended there and the peace of mind was super!

  5. Definitely get a prescription for the Doxy. My Dr. gives them to me 8 at a time. The dose is 2 per tick incident as a prophylaxis. Having had Lyme once I’ve up my surveillance and medial prevention routine.

    Interesting that the middle of the back is an area difficult to inspect. That’s where the tick that gave me Lyme lodged itself. While it never go engorged, it did attach for more than a day. There was never a bullseye rash. Months later I started spiking fevers that would come on fast and be gone in a few hours, experience back aches and lots of fatigue. Not until my wife insisted I get to the hospital did we discover it was Lyme. From my side, I just thought age had suddenly caught me.

    The Dr. in a small Maine hospital thought it was Erichliosis and gave me 2 weeks of Doxy.. They drew blood, but lost the results of the test for Lyme. He did say my white blood count was so low that I should avoid any bleeding, not get into a car accident or otherwise rupture organs, because I would bleed uncontrollably. So that’s a risk with Lyme I’d not heard before..

    Back home I got another set of blood tests and learned it was Lyme. My Dr. gave me another two weeks of Doxy and that was that. By then I was feeling better anyway (young again) so I can vouch for Doxy, and that if Lyme is caught before the disease does nerve damage you won’t have any lasting effects.

    Since then, and because I spend a lot of time in the woods with Whitetail Deer, I’ve kept my hair shorter, now stop to check for ticks frequently, do a full bare assed tick check (with assistance if available) every evening, use a back brush to scrub the middle of my back and a hand brush for the rest of me, including head. Some of the ticks are so small it would be easy to miss one. Using repellent and treating clothes with Permethrin is something I do, and it may help, but in spite of that I’ve found plenty of ticks walking around on the permethrin treated clothing.

  6. I had two embedded in my leg that I had to be removed with a scalpel. I waved off a local anesthetic for the first- to speed up the process… For the second, I opted for the local :). The hospital didn’t even test the ticks and just gave me antibiotics just in case.

    I could have used one of these kits- even with antibiotics it’s still worth knowing if they were infected in the first place.

    Thanks!!

  7. Philip, you were wearing permethrin treated clothing when the tick attached?!?! That’s concerning.

    I’ve been using permethrin for about the last 15 years for my Scout outings with good results. I have also shared your soaking how-to article with many Scout families and friends.

  8. Having had and suffered much with Lyme several years ago that was not diagnosed for many months I am very encouraged by the increasing awareness of the need to check for ticks after being outdoors. If you become sick after a tick bite or seeing a bullseye rash, don’t rest until you find a doctor or other practitioner who will test you. Articles such as this are essential to spread this knowledge. Thank you.

  9. Lyme disease is an epidemic. Medical establishment is woefully ignorant of it. I had it several years back. No tick was found, no bullseye rash, just nasty symptoms – low grade fever, extreme fatigue, body/trunk rash, night sweats (not light – sheet-soaking events) and later (after multiple mis-diagnosis) some finger joint swelling and pain. Went to my Dr. after a few days of symptoms (the night sweats scared me) and he told me I had a virus. I believed him. A week later, not getting better I Google-diagnosed myself. Google told me I either had some rare disease and would be dead in a matter of days or I had Lyme. Back to the Dr. who again said virus and wait it out but he would do blood tests. I asked him to test for Lyme, he got offended that I would question his diagnosis and told me flat out “it isn’t Lyme”. I insisted, and he begrudgingly agreed to add it to the blood tests. A week later I get a call – not from him – that I have Lyme. I have a new Dr. now. I read that blood testing for Lyme is only ~50% accurate, but if you can provide the tick it is nearly 100% so definitely this is a better way to go. Medical community says 2 weeks of Doxy cures all, but many people who don’t get antibiotics within a couple weeks complain of long-term symptoms. Luckily I have not had lasting symptoms but who knows what damage was done. A minority of Dr.’s say Lyme bacteria can “hide” from antibiotic by creating a cyst around itself and live for years in organs, muscle and even bone and then emerge when your immune system is weak – kind of like Shingles. Who knows for sure. All I know is Lyme is bad shit and people need to be vigilant about checking themselves for ticks and, if bitten “have a VERY low level of trust when it comes to the modern medical industrial complex” as Phillip says.

  10. Just read in National Geographic that in the U.S. Lyme infects around 476,000 people a year with medical costs up to $1 billion.

  11. Something else to consider are your pets. My mini Dachshund is on flea and tick protection medication. I have found three ticks on me that I believe were on her originally, but were repelled by her medication, and ended up attached to me. I found them quickly, with no lyme or other ill effects.

  12. Very good and timely article, ordered 2 for my AP future hike!

  13. I prefer using the services at Ticknology.com. You can send in up to 2 ticks per order and for $35 they’ll do a whole panel of diseases for you. It looks like through Cutter that you are paying $75 to $150 for the additional diseases.

    • You failed to mention that the base price for testing at Ticknology is more expensive ($49.95) than the Cutter test and that they also have two more tiers of testing for a broader panel of possible diseases (like cutter’s service) and that the Ticknology price is also more expensive at $99.99 and $199.99. Pay more if you want.

  14. First tick bite ever? Sounds like you’re not spending enough time outside! :)

      • I guess I may just be lucky. I don’t treat my clothes and I rarely used any type of repellant on my skin. I’ve never gotten a tick while hiking/backpacking in the Whites. I’ve always just tried to stay on trail as much as possible and stay out of grassy areas. But I’m only out 3-5 times a month and you’re out every day. Again, I may just be lucky.

  15. Remember, there is no “American Health Care System”. Instead there is a collection of doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies. Each of us is our own “Health Care System”. You need to advocate for your health and link together all of the providers and insurers. Add this to your tool kit as part of your System.

  16. Well that’s astounding that this product exists and actual medical labs can’t be bothered to notify you of the results. That really ticks me off, you could say…

  17. Hello Phillip:
    I too use permethrin treated clothing, usually insect shield, and had come to tust it too much it seems. They say it lasts 10 yeas or 72 washings giving the impression that it stays 100% effective. Not so, from what I recently read at “Entomology Today August 30, 2018, Tick-Repellent Clothing:, How Laundry Suds Affect Your Permethrin-Treated Duds.”
    It shows how each wash lessens the effectiveness so now it appears that, depite their admonition to not spray clothes already treated by the companies, if you want to be as safe als possible, one should keep, garments, socks and boots that get very wet, regularly sprayed.
    If anyone knows a better way, I would be interested since the government is very lax in going after these ticks when much more research is needed to protected us all from this scourge.

  18. Philip you must be blessed if that is your first tick bite ever. You must not have any pets. While I have found a few ticks on me while and after hiking, the majority I would have to say come from my dog and cat. Springtime in the rural areas of the Lakes Region in NH is awful, sometimes finding up to 5 ticks on me in a day. That does make me do a lot of tick checks. Thankfully I have never found an engorged tick but I always carry a alcohol wipe for cleaning after I remove one that has attached. I would be on a first name basis if I sent every tick that bit me? I’m not trying to make light of the situation. It gets worse every year. But I thank God for dry summer as I have not had one on me in over a month despite my dog and cat sleeping on my bed. I will have to look into getting a prescription for ( doxy ? ) as I get a few bites every year. If anyone knows more about that, whether good or bad I would be interested.

  19. Great, now we can self-test for one out of 16 serious diseases carried by ticks in the U.S., according to the CDC. And that doesn’t include getting good old staph infections from tick bites through dirty skin (BTDT), or alpha-gal syndrome aka red meat allergy.

    Neither Cutter’s $150 “Comprehensive Panel” nor Ticknology’s $35 “Universal” test cover all of them. And even if they did, I’d want to know a LOT more about the science and accuracy behind those tests. So-called “published science” guarantees almost nothing. Too much “state of the art but not that good” widely accepted in the medical community and elsewhere.

    I try to avoid tick festivals, plus frequently apply permethrin to clothes and picaridin to skin. Prophylactic antibiotics after tick bites have caused me years of gut suffering (IBS or dysbiosis), so that’s a big NO.

    Several close friends suffered for many years from Lyme disease, in a region where doctors “knew” it wasn’t a problem, so they had to fight like crazy to get treated.

    Note that a tick bite can transmit more than one human disease. And “tick season” is getting longer and longer, thanks to climate change. Be careful out there.

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