Risk of Lyme disease to Canadians

Learn about the risks of getting Lyme disease and where in Canada you are most at risk.

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What is the risk to Canadians?

The risk of getting a tick bite starts when the weather warms up in the spring, through until the fall. Ticks can also be active in the winter, if the winter is mild and there is not much snow. However, the greatest risk occurs during the spring and summer months.

Blacklegged ticks are most often found in forests as well as overgrown areas between woods and open spaces. Because tick populations are spreading, it is possible to be bitten outside of these locations.

Who is most at risk?

If you work outdoors or participate in outdoor activities, you may be at a greater risk for tick bites. When engaging in the following activities, you should take precautions against tick bites:

  • golfing
  • hunting
  • camping
  • fishing
  • hiking

Where in Canada are you at risk?

Blacklegged ticks are most often found in:

  • southern British Columbia
  • southeastern and south-central Manitoba
  • southern, eastern and northwestern Ontario
  • southern Quebec
  • southern New Brunswick and Grand Manan Island
  • parts of Nova Scotia

Lyme disease endemic and risk areas in Canada

Map of Canada - Lyme disease endemic and risk areas
Lyme disease endemic and risk areas in Canada – Text equivalent

This figure shows locations where the risk from tick bites and Lyme disease is known to occur, and where risk of tick bites and Lyme disease is possible. Locations where ticks and Lyme disease risk are known are called ‘endemic areas’ (‘known’ endemic areas indicated by red triangles if ticks and Lyme disease risk have been confirmed over several years of field study or by the occurrence of multiple human cases, otherwise they are called ‘suspect’ endemic areas which are indicated by blue circles). Also shown are hatched areas where surveillance and research studies suggest areas where ticks and Lyme disease risk have begun to become established.

The known and suspect endemic areas, and the possible risk areas, are indicated in insets on the map as follows:

Inset 1 - Southern Manitoba and Western Ontario

There are six known or suspect endemic areas in Manitoba: an area of the west side of Lake of the Woods (known endemic), the area of the Pembina escarpment including Pembina Valley Provincial Park (known endemic), the region of St. Malo (suspect area), the Vita/Arbakka region including the Roseau river (suspect area), Beaudry Provincial Park and the Assiniboine River (suspect area), locations adjacent to the Agassiz and Sandilands provincial forests (suspect area). Risk areas can be found stretching from the Ontario border west to Turtle Mountain Provincial Park, and from the US border extending to the south shores of Lake Manitoba, Lake Winnipeg and into southern parts of the Interlake.

Inset 2 - Southern Ontario

There are five known endemic areas shown: Pointe-Pelee National Park, Rondeau Provincial Park, Turkey Point Provincial Park, Long Point peninsula including Long Point Provincial Park and the National Wildlife area, and Wainfleet bog near Welland on the Niagara peninsula.

Inset 3 - Southeastern Ontario and Southern Quebec

Two known endemic areas in Ontario are Prince Edward Point and parts of the Thousand Islands National Park. There are five known endemic areas in Montérégie, in the south of Québec, although in two cases these locations are close together so at the scale of the map, three known endemic areas are shown. Possible risk areas are locations around Kingston in the Saint Lawrence valley that extend north east towards Ottawa, locations covering much of Montérégie, and parts of Estrie and Centre du Québec in the south of Québec.

Inset 4 - Maritime Provinces

Two known endemic areas in New Brunswick (Millidgeville area of Saint John and North Head, Grand Manan Island) as well as six known endemic areas in Nova Scotia (areas of Halifax Regional Municipality and areas of the counties of Lunenburg, Shelburne, Yarmouth, Pictou and Queens) are shown. Possible risk areas shown are locations adjacent to known endemic areas in Pictou and Lunenburg counties in Nova Scotia.

Inset 5 - Southern British Columbia

Known endemic areas include the southern mainland and Vancouver Island. Possible risk areas include much of Vancouver Island and the coast of British Columbia facing Vancouver Island, as well as river valleys across southern British Columbia.

See the Surveillance page for more information on Lyme disease surveillance activities and reported human cases in Canada.

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