Hamilton-Wentworth area of Ontario found to have 41% of blacklegged ticks infected with Lyme disease causing bacteria

Prevalence of the Lyme Disease Spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, in Blacklegged Ticks, Ixodes scapularis at Hamilton-Wentworth, Ontario

John D. Scott, et al.     April 2016                                                                                        Int J Med Sci 2016; 13(5):316-324. doi:10.7150/ijms.14552

Lyme disease has emerged as a major health concern in Canada, where the etiological agent, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.), a spirochetal bacterium, is typically spread by the bite of certain ticks. This study explores the presence of B. burgdorferi s.l. in blacklegged ticks, Ixodes scapularis, collected at Dundas, Ontario (a locality within the region of Hamilton-Wentworth). Using passive surveillance, veterinarians and pet groomers were asked to collect blacklegged ticks from dogs and cats with no history of travel. Additionally, I. scapularis specimens were submitted from local residents and collected by flagging. Overall, 12 (41%) of 29 blacklegged ticks were infected with B. burgdorferi s.l. Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and DNA sequencing, two borrelial amplicons were characterized as B. burgdorferi sensu stricto (s.s.), a genospecies pathogenic to humans and certain domestic animals. Notably, three different vertebrate hosts each had two engorged I. scapularis females removed on the same day and, likewise, one cat had three repeat occurrences of this tick species. These multiple infestations suggest that a population of I. scapularis may be established in this area. The local public health unit has been underreporting the presence of B. burgdorferi s.l.-infected I. scapularis in the area encompassing Dundas. Our findings raise concerns about the need to erect tick warning signs in parkland areas. Veterinarians, medical professionals, public health officials, and the general public must be vigilant that Lyme disease-carrying blacklegged ticks pose a public health risk in the Dundas area and the surrounding Hamilton-Wentworth region.

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  1. Lillian Kellogg on said:

    My daughter 53 years of age,has been suffering from an illness for 12 years . No doctor has been able to help, nor are they too interested in trying. She has gone to 40 plus doctors, some specialists to no avail She is unable to work, and out of funds
    She keeps being diagnosed with MS,which we believe is a misdiagnosis. She was living in Vermillion Bay, On., not far from Kenora On, She was working as a sewage disposal designer, when she was bitten by a tick and also had a second one on
    her skin in 2003. She became ill in the fall of2004. I wrote to you a detailed letter, but the letter came back. How do you get hel? She was tested for ticks which came back negative. She now lives in Clifford. north of Kitchener. Her original neurologist
    said he was not sure what she had and the closest he came to was MS. Please help.Her Mom

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