Tick Borne Diseases

Ticks are small creatures that are commonly found in wooded areas and tall grasslands in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia. They can carry bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that can make people sick.  Ticks get infected when they feed on wild animals and can then pass on the bacteria when they feed on humans.

Ticks cannot fly – instead they wait on low plants for animals or people to pass by. When they come into contact, ticks attach themselves to the skin to feed.

In some cases, a specific type of tick called a blacklegged tick can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. However, in the NWT, the risk of Lyme disease is very low because of the short summer season. The ticks found here usually do not carry the bacteria associated with Lyme disease. The Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Environment and Climate Change have surveillance systems to monitor the type of ticks in the NWT that cause Lyme disease.

If you are travelling to southern parts of Canada or other countries, there is a higher risk of getting Lyme disease from ticks. It is important to take precautions against tick bites when you are outside of the NWT.

How to remove a tick safely

If you find a tick attached to your skin, don’t panic. You can easily remove it with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. Here’s how:

  1. Use clean tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible.
  2. Gently pull upward with steady pressure. Avoid twisting or jerking the tick, as this can leave its mouth parts in your skin. If this happens, use the tweezers to remove them. If you cannot, leave it alone and let your skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Instead put it in alcohol, seal it in a bag or container, wrap it in tape, or flush it down the toilet.

Tick Bites and Identification.

An infected black-legged tick can transmit serious disease like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan. If you find a tick on your body or if you are bitten by one, contact your healthcare provider right away.

In the NWT, you can use eTick. It’s an app that helps you identify ticks quickly and for free. Just download the app or visit www.eTick.ca. This program helps keep track of the types of ticks in Canada and assesses the risk of getting tick-borne diseases in the NWT.

If you find a tick on your pets, consider getting help from a veterinarian to remove it safely and discuss prevention with them.