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
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. According to Ottawa Public Health, more than 20 percent of the ticks the city analyzed last year tested positive for Lyme disease. As a result, 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.
Reduce the risk of Lyme disease
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help reduce the risk of Lyme disease.
- Apply insect repellant.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Wear shoes and socks to cover exposed skin.
- Tuck pant legs into socks.
- Wear light-coloured clothing to be able to spot ticks easier.
- Stay on the trails when hiking in the woods or walking in long grass.
- 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.'
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. Send the tick that you removed to be tested at a public health laboratory in your area.
For more information, contact your local public health agency.