Ticks & Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a serious illness caused by bacteria that are spread through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick (also known as a deer tick). If you think you have been bitten by a tick and are concerned, contact your healthcare provider. If possible, keep the tick and complete the Tick Submission form (PDF, 1 page, 67 KB) to submit it to Public Health for identification. 

Ticks are usually found in woody or bushy areas but because they can be carried by birds it is possible to encounter them just about anywhere. Ticks do not jump, fly or move very quickly, but will wait on low-growing vegetation and easily latch onto people and pets that brush against them.

It is possible to find an infected tick almost anywhere in Ontario. The southern part of Wellington County (Puslinch) has been identified by active surveillance (tick dragging) as a high-risk area.

A tick must be actively feeding to spread bacteria, including the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Lyme disease may be prevented through the use of antibiotics if detected soon enough. Contact your healthcare provider if you are concerned.

This map (PDF) shows risk areas where blacklegged ticks are established.

How to prevent ticks bites and Lyme disease

  • Download our Tick ID card (PDF, 2 pages, 288 KB) to carry with you
  • Wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easy to see
  • Cover up by wearing closed footwear and tucking pants into socks
  • Use a repellent that contains DEET or Icaridin and follow the manufacturer’s directions
  • Perform full-body checks on yourself, children and pets
  • When you get home, put your clothes in the dryer for at least 10 minutes before washing them
  • Find out how Lyme disease is identified and treated

What to do if you find a tick attached to your skin

If you’ve been bitten by a tick, remove it carefully using tweezers following these instructions or a tick remover. Remove it as soon as possible. Removing ticks within 24 hours reduces the risk of infection. Submit the tick to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health for identification.

Never:

  • Flick or scratch an attached tick
  • Use petroleum jelly, heat or nail polish to remove a tick (these take too long to work)
  • Remove a tick while holding it around the middle (abdomen)
  • Burn an attached tick

These methods increase the chance of forcing harmful microorganisms out of the tick and into your bloodstream.

How to submit a tick for identification

  1. Keep the tick:
    • Put live tick in a clear container that has a tight-fitting screw-top lid and add a small amount of rubbing alcohol, OR
    • Put ticks/insects into a freezer for at least 12 hours prior to submitting.
  2. Print and fill out the Tick/Insect Submission Form (PDF).
  3. Submit the tick and form to us for identification by calling 1-800-265-7293 ext. 4753 or by bringing it into one of our offices.

Blacklegged ticks involved in human exposures may be forwarded to Health Canada to be tested for the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Tick testing is for surveillance purposes only, and is NOT used to diagnose Lyme disease.

Images of Blacklegged ticks at various stages including larva, nymph, adult male and female. Includes enlarged views and approximate size view.