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Watch out for blacklegged ticks in York Region: public health
April 26, 2019
Sheila Wang

It may still be too cold for many flowers to sprout, but it is already warm enough for ticks to come out.

Stella the dog may have plenty of tail wags and sharp barks, but her owner, Deborah Cristinzo, says the pup is due for a blood test in four to six weeks for Lyme disease.

Cristinzo found a tick on the top of Stella’s head and quickly removed it after a routine walk in the May Avenue area of Richmond Hill in the evening of April 22.

She took Stella to the vet the next morning, only to be told the tick was a blacklegged tick, a parasite that can carry the bacteria causing Lyme disease.

"It’s a big deal because this tick could’ve landed on a human," Cristinzo told on April 24.

Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick, also known as a deer tick. While there is no evidence that Lyme disease can spread directly from dogs to humans, the same type of tick that could infect a dog can also feed on people.

Cristinzo says Stella still has a big lump on her head and it will take weeks for the vet for confirm whether she has been infected with Lyme disease.

"We didn’t even have that many ticks that carry Lyme disease and to find it walking in a neighbourhood off the grass is something I think the public should be made aware of," the dog owner said.

Most of York Region is in an estimated risk area for Lyme disease, Danielle Perras, with York Region’s community and health services, said.

Where the ticks have been found in York Region so far:

However, as tick populations are expanding, it is possible that blacklegged ticks could be present outside the areas identified by York Region Public Health, Perras said.

Risk areas are defined as wooded or brushy areas within a 20 km radius of locations where blacklegged ticks have been found through tick dragging during two dragging events (once in spring and again in the fall; from May through October), according to public health.

How to prevent tick bites

Submitting a tick for testing

You can submit a tick to your doctor or your local public health unit. It will be identified and if it is a blacklegged tick it will be tested for Lyme disease.

For more information, a map of ticks in Ontario and for an educational video, you can visit