tick season in ontario

Ontario hikers are seeing more ticks this spring and Lyme disease reports are on the rise

It's tick season in Ontario and hikers say they're spotting more ticks than usual around Toronto this spring.

That's bad news.

Bites from a certain species of tick, if left untreated, can lead to serious health concerns including facial paralysis as well as heart and neurological disorders.

The bad news is compounded by the fact that, because of the pandemic, the government agencies that usually track them have suspended operations this year.

Members of the Facebook group, Ontario Hiking, have posted about spotting large numbers of ticks after returning from hikes. One person said they were "covered in ticks" after a hike near Hamilton.

"They are everywhere this year," another person said.

Tick surveillance is normally conducted by public health units, but the City of Toronto tells blogTO they have suspended their passive and active blacklegged tick surveillance due to the pandemic.

Lyme disease, which can be transmitted by blacklegged ticks, has been on a steady increase, according to Public Ontario Health. The province had 88 cases in 2010, and by 2019 there were over 1,000.

But there is something you can do.

While there is no tick surveillance at the moment, people who think they've found a tick on themselves, their pet, or anywhere can submit a photo to eTick.

This tick identification platform can provide species identification results within 48 hours of submission to determine if it is a blacklegged tick. Early detection and removal of ticks is important in the prevention of Lyme disease.

Ticks are normally found in wooded or bushy areas with lots of leaves on the ground or where there are tall grasses.

Tick populations are expanding, according to Toronto Public Health, but the risk of getting Lyme disease in Toronto is still considered low.

To avoid ticks, wear long pants and long sleeves, apply insect repellent and check yourself and pets after a hike.

Lead photo by

Erik Karits/Unsplash

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