Baseline Tick Survey 2014

From April to November 2014 the Huron County Health Unit, in partnership with local veterinarians and the National Microbiology Laboratory, conducted a passive baseline tick survey in Huron County.

Using media coverage and word of mouth, the Health Unit encouraged participating veterinarians, health care providers and individuals to submit ticks collected from humans and pets.

A total of 170 ticks were collected within Huron County and immediate surrounding area and submitted to the Health Unit. The ticks were sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for identification.  The results of the identifications are included in Table 1.

Table 1

TICK SPECIES IDENTIFIED NUMBER OF TICKS IDENTIFIED
 American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) 79
 Blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) 69
 Groundhog tick (Ixodes cookie) 21
 Lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) 1

Because of their ability to transmit illnesses to humans, some ticks were analyzed for the presence of illness-causing organisms.

Specifically, the National Microbiology Laboratory tested for:

These results are included in Table 2.
Table 2

TESTING RESULTS
Borrelia burgdorferi (in blacklegged ticks) 3 positive out of 69 tested
Anaplasma phogocytophilum (in blacklegged ticks) 1 positive out of 69 tested
Babesia microti (in blacklegged ticks) 0 positive out of 69 tested
Powassan virus (in groundhog ticks) 0 positive out of 17 tested

The results of the tick identifications and analyses, as well as public health-related information, were shared with all those who submitted ticks.

Of note, 37 (54%) of the 69 identified blacklegged ticks were collected from the southwest part of Huron county and from the northwest part of Lambton county.  This finding indicates that there may be an established blacklegged tick population in the area.  None of the 3 ticks which tested positive for the bacterium that causes Lyme disease were collected from this area.

A similar survey should be conducted in the future to determine if tick species and populations in Huron County, along with their ability to transmit illness to humans, have changed.

The Health Unit expresses its gratitude to all participating veterinarians and their staff and to the participating staff at the National Microbiology Laboratory for their assistance in this survey.