The spring and summer months is peak tick season in Canada.
As the weather warms, Public Health Units are warning residents about the risk of tick bites and the threat they pose to both people and pets. Lyme disease is spread through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick.
Listed below are helpful resources that will provide information on tick identification, habitat and removal; the symptoms and dangers of Lyme disease; and how to protect yourself and minimize the risk of being bitten. First and foremost, reduce the risk of Lyme disease by covering up, using bug spray and always wearing protective clothing such as long pants, socks and closed-toe footwear when entering tick habitat.
- Public Health Units are noticing an increased population of both Blacklegged (deer) Ticks and Dog Ticks; it is only the Blacklegged (deer) Ticks that can potentially carry Lyme disease.
- Blacklegged Ticks are much smaller than Dog Ticks.
- Be aware that according to Lyme Ontario, those various “home remedies” you may have heard for tick removal have not been proven effective and can potentially do more harm than good. Please be advised that under no circumstances should a flame, ointment, flammable liquid (gasoline, oil, lighter fluid, acetone, nail polish, etc.) or caustic material be used in removal attempts. Seek the attention of a doctor to remove the tick or refer to the material below to find out how to properly remove a tick at home.
- If you (or someone you know) have been bitten by a tick, once you have removed it carefully, you can bring it to your local Public Health Unit for identification. If it is determined that it’s a Blacklegged tick, the Public Health Unit will send it to be tested for Lyme disease.
- Blacklegged ticks cannot jump or fly. Instead, they seek hosts by climbing on vegetation such as grasses or shrubs in the woods (especially along trails) as well as the fringe area between the woods and border. Ticks will wait for a host to rub against them and climb onto the host’s body, eventually attempting to attach and feed.
- Tick bites are generally painless, so a visual check of the skin is necessary. A tick bite can happen anywhere, but it is particularly important to check for ticks if you have been walking or working in potential tick habitat or in areas of higher tick populations, as promptly removing ticks can help prevent infection.
- In Ontario, blacklegged ticks are most commonly found in areas along the north shores of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
- The greatest risk of getting Lyme disease is during the spring and summer months.
Helpful tips, resources and information from the Ontario Ministry of Health on Lyme Disease on how to avoid bites from blacklegged ticks: https://www.ontario.ca/page/lyme-disease
Resources and information from Public Health Ontario: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/BrowseByTopic/InfectiousDiseases/Pages/IDLandingPages/Lyme-Disease.aspx
Lyme Ontario has an excellent fact sheet of information on tick identification, avoidance and removal, as well as the symptoms and testing for Lyme disease: http://lymeontario.com/about/about-lyme-disease-2/
Ontario Ministry of Labour developed a helpful resource for employers to help protect outdoor workers from tick bites and Lyme disease: https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/lyme.php