Where Blacklegged Ticks Live
We continue to track where infected and uninfected blacklegged ticks are being found.
Public Health Ontarios Lyme disease page has a map that shows areas in Ontario where they estimate you are more likely to find blacklegged ticks.
Blacklegged ticks are spreading to new areas of the province because of climate change. They can also spread by traveling on birds and deer. While the probability is low, it is possible to find an infected tick almost anywhere in Ontario.
Ticks are most active in spring and summer, but can be found at any time of the year when the temperature is above freezing.
How To Avoid Tick Bites
To reduce the chance of being bitten:
- cover your skin while walking outdoors and tuck your trousers into your socks
- use insect repellent on your clothes and skin products containing DEET are best
- stay on clear paths whenever possible
- wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to see and brush off
Lyme Disease Risk Areas
Blacklegged ticks are spreading to new areas in Canada in part due to climate change. They can also spread by travelling on birds and deer. You can sometimes find blacklegged ticks in areas outside of where they’re known to live.
You’re most likely to encounter ticks during the spring, summer and fall. However, ticks can be active at any time of the year when the temperature is consistently above freezing. The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to protect yourself against tick bites. Always take precautions against tick bites when you’re in wooded or grassy areas.
Using data from active and passive tick monitoring, the Public Health Agency of Canada identifies areas where:
- tick populations may be emerging
- people are most at risk of getting Lyme disease
Check if you’re in a risk area. Enter the first 3 characters of your postal code or municipality in the filter field below.
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How To Identify Deer Ticks
The first step to minimizing the risk of contracting Lyme disease is knowing how to properly identify a deer tick. Some other species, such as the dog tick, can appear like the deer tick. However, the dog tick has white markings on its underside where the deer tick is a solid color. Adult deer ticks are the size of a sesame seed, with a shield-like scutum behind the head, reddish-brown lower bodies, black legs, and heads. Larval or nymph deer ticks are even smaller, the size of a poppy seed or even the head of a pin. Adult ticks have the expected eight legs that mark an arachnid, while larval ticks only have six.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Tick bites are usually painless and most people do not know they have been bitten. Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease vary greatly from person to person, and may appear anywhere between 3 to 30 days after a person has been bitten.
Symptoms often include:
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Skin rash.
One sign of infection can be an expanding rash, sometimes referred to as a “bull’s eye” rash because it may have rings spreading from the bite site ). It is important to note that rashes without the bull’s eye may occur, and that rashes do not appear in every case of Lyme disease infection.
The PHAC states that if left untreated, more severe symptoms may occur and can last from months to years. Severe symptoms may include:
- Severe headaches
- Additional EM skin rashes..
- Neurological disorders
- Nervous system disorders, including facial paralysis or Bell’s palsy .
- Intermittent muscle, joint, tendon, and bone aches
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and less commonly in other joints such as the ankle, elbow, and wrists.
If untreated, a condition called late disseminated Lyme disease may occur. PHAC reports symptoms include recurring arthritis , nervous system and/or neurological problems. Symptoms can also include numbness and/or paralysis . Deaths from Lyme disease are rare but may occur.
PHAC provides more information on Lyme Disease.
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How To Prevent Picking Up A Tick Carrying Lyme Disease
Of course, the best tool to keep a tick from making us sick is by preventing them from attaching to us at all! Knowing where ticks live, how to repel them, and what to do if one is embedded in your dog, are all tools to protect you from all dangerous tick-related illnesses. In our article about how to get rid of ticks on your body and in your yard, we go into more detail. We also go over how to kill ticks on dogs, what ticks look like, and plenty of other ways to protect yourself and your pets in our other tick articles too!
Treatment Following A Tick Bite
- In some circumstances, a single dose of antibiotic given within 72 hours of a tick bite might prevent the development of Lyme disease. Several criteria must be met:
- The tick must be identified as the blacklegged tick .
- The tick must have been attached for at least 36 hours .
- The tick bite occurred in a highly endemic area
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What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. This spiral shaped bacterium is most commonly spread by a tick bite. The disease takes its name from Lyme, Connecticut. This is where the illness was first identified in the United States in 1975.
Although Lyme disease is a year-round problem, April through October is considered tick season. Cases of Lyme disease have been reported in nearly all states in the U.S. and in large areas in Europe and Asia, but the most common areas are the Northeast, upper Midwest and northwestern states.
When To See A Doctor
Only a small fraction of deer tick bites lead to Lyme disease. If the tick is attached for less than 36 hours, the risk is drastically minimized. However, the earlier you are diagnosed with Lyme disease, the more successful treatment will be. If you suspect you have been bitten by a deer tick, or exhibit any of the early signs or symptoms above, see your doctor as soon as possible. This is especially true for individuals that live in an area where deer ticks are common. Even if symptoms seem to disappear, seek medical attention, as Lyme disease can spread to other areas if left untreated. Also, Lyme disease is only one of the dangerous illnesses ticks transmit.
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Can Any Tick Bite Give Me Lyme Disease
No, not all ticks can transmit Lyme disease. In this area, only Ixodes scapularis ticks, also called deer ticks, can spread Lyme disease, and only if the tick is infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Even after a bite from an infected tick, it must be attached long enough usually more than 36 hours to spread the infection to a person.
Stage : Early Localized Disease
Symptoms of Lyme disease usually start 1 to 2 weeks after the tick bite. One of the earliest signs of the disease is a bulls-eye rash.
The rash occurs at the site of the tick bite, usually, but not always, as a central red spot surrounded by a clear spot with an area of redness at the edge. It may be warm to the touch, but it isnt painful and doesnt itch. This rash will gradually fade in most people.
The formal name for this rash is erythema migrans. Erythema migrans is said to be characteristic of Lyme disease. However, many people dont have this symptom.
Some people have a rash thats solid red, while people with dark complexions may have a rash that resembles a bruise.
The rash can occur with or without systemic viral or flu-like symptoms.
Other symptoms commonly seen in this stage of Lyme disease include:
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Lyme Disease Is On The Rise Again Here’s How To Prevent It
As it turns out, the chance of catching Lyme disease from an individual tick ranges from zero to roughly 50 percent, according to Mather. The exact probability depends on three factors: the tick species, where it came from and how long the tick was feeding.
First, Mather says it’s important to identify the species of tick.
Only two species of tick transmit Lyme disease, both from the genus Ixodes. The blacklegged tick , often referred to as the deer tick, is found throughout the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains. The Western blacklegged tick is found west of the Rockies.
Adults of both species have reddish-black bodies and are about the size of a sesame seed smaller than most other ticks. As juveniles, they’re even tinier roughly the size of a poppy seed.
If you’ve been bitten by something other than a blacklegged tick, you can stop worrying about Lyme. But Mather cautions that you may be at risk for other, less common infections, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Even if a blacklegged tick bit you, there’s still a good chance you’re OK. That’s because only a fraction of blacklegged ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
Where you live determines how many blacklegged ticks are carrying Lyme. A recent study found that in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, up to 50 percent of blacklegged ticks are infected. But in the South and West, infection rates are usually less than 10 percent.
How To Safely Remove A Tick
Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, and some ticks carry other diseases. To avoid infecting yourself, never crush a tick with your fingers. For more information on the safe removal, disposal and identification of ticks visit CDC.gov/ticks.
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Treatment For Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is commonly treated with antibiotics, the most common being doxycycline. However, the specific antibiotic depends on many factors such as known allergies and interactions with other medications. All medications taken for any illness should be prescribed by a healthcare professional. While antibiotics like doxycycline may be easy to obtain online, exact dosages depend on the individual. Improper dosage of antibiotics can cause resistance, ineffectiveness, illness, or even death in some cases.
Stage : Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Late disseminated Lyme disease occurs when the infection hasnt been treated in stages 1 and 2. Stage 3 can occur months or years after the tick bite.
This stage is characterized by:
- arthritis of one or more large joints
- brain disorders, such as encephalopathy, which can cause short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, mental fogginess, problems with following conversations and sleep disturbance
- numbness in the arms, legs, hands, or feet
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How Does A Person Get Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick, which also is known as the black-legged tick. Immature deer ticks can be very small, about the size of the head of a pin adult deer ticks are slightly larger. Both can be infected with and transmit Lyme disease. Deer ticks acquire the bacteria by feeding primarily on small mammals infected with the bacteria, particularly the white-footed mouse. Deer ticks infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease have been found in Illinois. Areas in the United States where deer ticks are most frequently infected with Lyme disease are the northeastern United States , northern California, and north central states, especially Minnesota and Wisconsin. However, Lyme disease has been reported in almost all states in the United States as well as in many countries throughout the world.
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How Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
In areas where ticks are found, people should know about the risk of Lyme disease and should take precautions to protect themselves. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease so it can be detected and treated promptly. PHAC states that removing ticks within 24 to 36 hours after the tick bite usually prevents infection.
PHAC has also prepared a Lyme disease tool kit which provides material to raise awareness and educate.
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Ticks That Carry Lyme Disease Bacteria
The Ixodes tick, also known as the blacklegged tick or deer tick, is the species that commonly carries and transmits the Lyme disease bacterium. In the eastern and midwestern states of the U.S. during the spring, summer, and fall, the main type of tick that carries the bacterium is Ixodes scapularis or deer tick. In the western U.S., Ixodes pacificusâthe western blacklegged tickâprimarily carries Lyme disease bacteria. Your chances of Lyme disease after a tick bite partially depends on the type of tick that bit you and what life cycle stage it’s in.
Where Do We Find Ticks
Generally, you can find ticks where the animals they feed on live. This usually includes wooded and grassy areas. An adult tick quests for its next blood meal by climbing up grasses and bushes to wait for an animal to pass by. Nymphs and larvae are typically found in layers of decomposing leaves underneath trees. Ticks thrive in damp environments and are less active in hot, dry weather.
Can Lyme Disease Be Treated
In most cases, yes. Antibiotics can effectively treat Lyme disease, especially when treatment begins early. Cases that reach the later stages of the disease, however, can be difficult to treat and some symptoms can persist.
PHAC reports that removing the tick within 24-36 hours usually prevents infection.
Do All Ticks Carry Lyme Disease
It is often confused that ticks are the originators of Lyme disease when in fact they are just carriers of the disease. The disease itself is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, and following the bite of an infected tick, this bacterium disseminates into the skin surrounding the bite. If left unnoticed or untreated, the bacterium can infect the blood stream and infect the body further from there. Fortunately, not all species of ticks are vectors for Lyme disease.
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Diagnosis Testing And Treatment
You may have heard that the blood test for Lyme disease is correctly positive only 65% of the time or less. This is misleading information. As with serologic tests for other infectious diseases, the accuracy of the test depends upon how long youve been infected. During the first few weeks of infection, such as when a patient has an erythema migrans rash, the test is expected to be negative.
Several weeks after infection, FDA cleared tests have very good sensitivity.
It is possible for someone who was infected with Lyme disease to test negative because:
If you are pregnant and suspect you have contracted Lyme disease, contact your physician immediately.
- Report being bitten by a tick, or
- Live in, or have recently visited, a tick-infested area.
Keep A Lookout For Symptoms From Tick Bite This Summer
Have you checked yourself or your child for tick bites lately?
If you havent already heard, this summer is a particularly booming year for tick populations across the country and in the state of Ohio. A black-legged tick , the kind that sometimes carries Lyme disease, was spotted just to the east of us in Vermilion earlier this summer. And Ohio is on the list of 24 states that contains counties with newly documented populations of deer ticks.
Tick bites are common. Some people are unaware of a tick bite at first. Be sure to check yourself and your children often, especially throughout the summer months when tick populations grow. Ticks are especially attracted to warm, moist areas of the skin like armpits, groins, or hair. Once they bite you, a tick may stick around drawing your blood for up to 10 days. The sooner you spot and remove a tick, the better.
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