Tick Talk – Ticks in Ontario

Ticks are members of the group of animals called arachnids which also includes spiders, mites and scorpions. They are important to humans and animals because they can serve as vectors of disease. The tick borne disease of greatest concern in Ontario is Lyme disease which is carried by the black legged tick (also known as deer tick). Other ticks that are found on humans and pets in Ontario include the ground hog tick and the American dog tick.

Lyme disease can affect both humans and pets. The majority of cases of Lyme disease in Ontario are in the southern part of the province because of more favourable climatic conditions for the black legged tick.

Recent studies have reported that established populations of black legged ticks are increasing because of lengthening summer and fall seasons and changes in the range of tick hosts such as the white-tailed deer. In Ontario the most common areas for black legged ticks and, therefore, Lyme disease are Long Point Provincial Park, Turkey Point Provincial Park, Rondeau Provincial Park, Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area, St. Lawrence Islands National Park, parts of the Thousand Islands National Park, the Wainfleet Bog Conservation Area and the areas surrounding these parks.

Larval and nymph stages of the tick readily attach to migratory birds and can be transmitted from endemic areas to widely separated areas across Canada thus making it possible (although less likely) to be bitten by a Lyme infected tick outside of the endermic areas. We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of pets in our practice that have presented with ticks and that have not left the Aurora area!

If you plan to visit any of these endemic areas there are several precautions that you can take to protect yourself and your pet.

These include:

• Avoid tick infested areas if possible.
• Wear protective clothing (eg. secure trouser cuffs inside boots and leggings to prevent ticks from gaining access to legs).
• Check your body thoroughly for ticks. Also, before your pets enter the house, check them thoroughly for ticks as well.
• If ticks are found embedded in the skin, remove carefully, using small tweezers. Grasp the tick with the tweezers at the point where the mouth parts enter the skin, and use a gentle, firm, tugging motion until the tick releases hold of one’s skin. Do not kill the tick before it has been removed. Treat the bite wound with antiseptic to avoid infection, and save the tick in a jar labeled with the date and location to take for identification and testing to your health care professional.
• An insect repellent containing DEET sprayed on the clothes is also effective at repelling ticks.
• Your pet should be treated with a tick preventive medication prior to visiting these areas.
• Lyme disease vaccination is available for dogs and should be administered prior to visiting a Lyme disease endemic area.

If you would like to obtain more information on protecting your pet from ticks and from Lyme disease please feel free to contact us at the Golf Glen Veterinary Clinic.

More information on ticks and Lyme disease in Ontario is available at:

http://www.uoguelph.ca/pdc/Factsheets/Other/Ticks.htm

http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/ms/lyme/public/

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