Click here to view the Summer 2014 Field Research Report
Ontarians are fortunate to have an abundance of wilderness that provides us with ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. But one thing to keep in mind when outside – especially in areas that are forested or have tall grasses, weeds or many shrubs – is Lyme disease.
In Ontario, Lyme disease is spread to humans by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick. Lyme disease can be serious, and health officials are seeing an increase in the number of cases in the province.
In the 1990s, only one region in Ontario was endemic with blacklegged ticks that carry Lyme disease. As of 2016, at least 12 areas of southern Ontario are considered endemic regions. This is likely due to increasingly favourable conditions for ticks including: natural range expansion aided in part by climate warming, lengthening summer and fall seasons, and possible changes in the range of key hosts for ticks such as the white-tailed deer.
Blacklegged ticks occur sporadically over a wide geographic range in Canada which is partly due to the fact that the larvae and nymph stages of the blacklegged tick readily attach to migratory birds. Birds serve to transport blacklegged ticks from endemic areas in the United States and Canada to the rest of the country. This puts humans at risk for acquiring a tick almost anywhere in Ontario. All tick surveillance indicators suggest that the current range of blacklegged tick populations is expanding and will likely continue to do so in the future.
More on Lyme Disease:
- Transmission of Lyme Disease
- Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
- Be Tick Smart – Lyme Disease Prevention & Precautions
Last modified on Jul 08, 2016