Estimated time to read: 2 minutes

Eva Katic

Senior Manager, Natural Resources and Land Management at the National Capital Commission

The blacklegged tick, also called the deer tick, is present in the National Capital Region, and remains a concern due to the potential for it to transmit Lyme disease.

Ticks and health concerns

An adult blacklegged tick on a leaf
Blacklegged tick

Closely related to spiders, ticks are a group of about 900 species of parasites in the class Arachnida. These small animals rely on blood to live.

Ticks are a vector of various diseases. Susceptible hosts can become infected while ticks are feeding. Lyme disease is caused by bacterial infection spread by the blacklegged tick. If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause severe symptoms such as nervous system disorders, mental issues and paralysis.

Ticks are most commonly found in shrubby and brushy areas, such as the Greenbelt and Gatineau Park, where host animals such as deer and mice can be found. The National Capital Region has been designated an at-risk area for Lyme disease. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the southwest Outaouais region, including Gatineau Park, is also a risk area for Lyme disease.

Did you know? Researchers from the University of Ottawa are studying ticks in the Greenbelt. They drag sheets along the trails, picking up ticks as they move along. The ticks are then sent to the lab to be tested for Lyme disease. Our trail managers will use this data to increase your safety on NCC trails.

Protect yourself from tick bites

Different stages of the tick associated with Lyme disease. Left to right: larva, nymph, adult male, adult female.
Different stages of the Ixodes scapularis tick associated with Lyme disease. Left to right: larva, nymph, adult male, adult female.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to protect yourself from tick bites and help reduce the risk of Lyme disease.

  • Stay on the trails when hiking.
  • Apply insect repellant.
  • Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Wear shoes and socks to cover exposed skin.
  • Tuck pant legs into socks.
  • Wear light-coloured clothing to be able to spot ticks easier.
  • Do a thorough check for ticks after any activity in tick habitat.
If you are bitten by a tick, the best course of action is to remove the tick as soon as possible.

Lyme disease will usually manifest only from infected ticks that have been attached for more than 24 hours. Remove the tick by grasping it with tweezers or a tick remover as close to your skin as possible, and gently pulling it straight out. After the tick is removed, disinfect or wash the area well with soap and water. 

For more information, contact your local public health agency.