Albertans can present ticks they find in the environment or on themselves to an Environmental Public Health Office, a First Nations Health Centre or a physician. Ticks found on pets or livestock should be submitted to a veterinarian. Information on how to remove a tick and submit it to the program is available on Alberta Health’s website.
Submitted ticks are checked to see if they are carrying the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease.
The Alberta government has been testing ticks found on pets and farm animals since 2007. The program expanded in 2013, in partnership with Alberta Health Services and the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, to include ticks found on people and in the environment.
Test results show that the types of ticks that can carry the Lyme disease bacteria do not have established populations in Alberta. This means there is little risk of getting Lyme disease in Alberta.
“Thanks to Albertans who have submitted ticks, government has been able to monitor what types of ticks are in the province. Although the risk of getting Lyme disease in Alberta is very low, I encourage Albertans to keep submitting ticks they find so we can continue to assess this risk.”
Albertans can reduce their risk of getting tick bites by taking the following steps:
- Covering up as much skin as possible when going into wooded or grassy areas.
- Using bug spray that contains the chemical DEET or Icaridin.
- Checking themselves and their pets for ticks after spending time outside.
- In 2016, 2,781 ticks were submitted to the provincial program. Only 34 of the ticks found in Alberta tested positive for the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease.
- Between 2013 (the first year of the expanded tick surveillance program) and 2016, the number of ticks submitted by Albertans to the program almost tripled but the proportion of ticks carrying the Lyme disease bacteria did not increase.
- The tick surveillance program does not test for Lyme disease in humans. Anyone concerned about a tick bite or who thinks they may have Lyme disease should visit their doctor.
- Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. Humans may get Lyme disease if they are bitten by an infected tick.
- Lyme disease has been reportable to Alberta Health since 1991. Between 1991 and 2016, 88 cases of Lyme disease were reported to Alberta Health. All of these cases were acquired while travelling outside the province to areas where Lyme disease is circulating.