Black-legged Ticks & Lyme Disease
Black-Legged Tick / Deer Tick
In 2016, 20% of Black-legged ticks (also called deer ticks) tested in the Ottawa area contained the Borrelia bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. The bacteria is transmitted through the bite of an infected tick attached to people and pets. Infected ticks spread north across the St. Lawrence River and 1000 Islands around 2006, and are now found throughout Canada and the United States.
Even if you remove a tick from your skin, it's imperative to get medical treatment as soon as possible to prevent permanent neurological problems. Ticks don't jump - they transfer to you or your pet as you pass by them on grass or branches. At a minimum, use insect repellant and inspect yourself and your pet for ticks after being in fields or woods. Hunters should note that ticks can remain on a deer carcass for some time. Use our links for information about prevention, symptoms, and treatment.
- Reported Cases of Lyme Disease
- 2018 332 (by Sep. 7)
- 2017 186
- 2016 74
- 2015 73
- 2014 22
- 2013 49
Tick Removal Procedures
Standard Tick Removal:
The bite is painless so look for a tick the size of a small seed with 8 legs. The tick attaches to your skin with their mandible (mouth), which has backward sloping barbs that hold it in. Once the tick attaches to the skin, it's difficult to pull it staight out. You must get a good grip near its mouth with fine-tip tweezers (not blunt-tip). An alternative is to loop dental floss tightly around the tick's mouthparts close to its attachment to the skin. Pull slowly and steadily upwards until the tick releases. Place the tick in a bottle or zip-lock bag with a damp paper towel (for testing). Wash the bite site with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.
Cautions: Never use a match, petroleum jelly or nail polish as this makes a tick burrow in, injectinging even more saliva into the skin! If any parts remain attached, try to remove them with tweezers. Clean the bite with soap and water or use rubbing alcohol. Watch for symptoms, and see a doctor immediately if any develop. [Tick Removal]
Easy Tick Removal:
An easier method is to rub the tick's body gently in a circular motion with the tip of a finger, moving its body around until it releases from the skin. You may wear gloves as a precaution. The tick should release from the skin in under a minute. [Video]
Capture the tick and dispose of it by soaking in rubbing alcohol or flush it down a toilet. If you are in an area which has ticks that carry Lyme Disease, put the tick in a jar or a sealed bag with a moist paper towel and contact your municipal Public Health Unit to have it tested. [Ottawa Public Health: phone 3-1-1 or 613-580-6744 or email email@example.com]
Lyme Disease in Dogs
Lyme disease was reported in dogs in the Manotick area in 2016. A veterinarian can recommend the correct topical or oral preventative for your dog. A Lyme vaccine is also available for dogs that are considered at riskŁ.
Lyme disease is an infection caused by Borrelia bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected black-legged ticks (called deer ticks) on people and pets. (It is not carried by dog ticks.) The ticks become infected by feeding on the blood of infected rodents, birds, and deer, then pass it on to any bird, animal, human or pet they feed on. It is normally treated with anti-biotics, but diagnosis can be difficult after the first stage of the disease.
Most bites come from an immature tick during spring and summer. These are less than 2 mm long and difficult to see. The larger adult black-legged ticks are most active during late summer and are easier to notice. The ticks have a two year life cycle, normally becoming dormant in cold weather, but animals may harbour live ticks well into winter.
Ticks can easily attach themselves to dogs walking in long grass or bush. Infection typically occurs after the tick has been attached for 2-3 days, so it's important to check your dog regularly, particularly on skin near the eyes and ears. Save a removed tick and test it for Lyme Disease at the Public Health Unit for your municipality. [Ottawa Public Health: phone 3-1-1 or 613-580-6744 or email firstname.lastname@example.org]
Some symptoms of dogs who have acquired Lyme disease:
- swollen joints
- lack of appetite
- weight loss
- abnormal fluid buildup
- kidney problems