Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans by a bite from an infected blacklegged tick. Ticks stick to skin and feed on blood. A tick that carries the bacteria can only transmit Lyme disease after it has filled itself with blood, which takes at least 24 hours.
In Nova Scotia, only the blacklegged tick carries the bacteria that causes Lyme disease and not all blacklegged ticks carry the bacteria.
Blacklegged ticks have been found across the province. They survive best in areas that provide a moist habitat. Wooded or forested areas are very suitable as the trees provide shade and leaf litter ground cover for protection.
In Nova Scotia there are six areas where blacklegged ticks carrying the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease are known to be established:
From 2002 to 2012, there were a total of 171 cases of Lyme disease reported in Nova Scotia. In 2013, there were 154 cases reported. Tick populations are expanding in Nova Scotia and Lyme disease awareness has grown over the years, so an increase in number of cases is expected.
It is no longer necessary to ask that ticks be sent to the Museum of Natural History, Department of Natural Resources, or laboratories for identification and testing.
The testing of ticks for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease should not be used for diagnosis or treatment of Lyme disease. If you think that you may have a tick borne illness such as Lyme disease, please see a health care provider.
Remember: When enjoying the outdoors it's important to do so safely and to protect from ticks.
There are six areas across the province where the risk is higher as shown by the red circles on the map below. These areas are known to have blacklegged ticks that carry the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease. (Use the + and - buttons on the map to zoom in)
Remember that blacklegged ticks can be found across the province. Protect yourself and your family whenever you enjoy the outdoors - especially in grassy, wooded or shrub covered areas.
Note - This map depicts areas of known established blacklegged tick populations that carry Lyme disease. As the province continues active surveillance new areas may be identified and the map may be updated.
Top row: nymph, male and female Blacklegged ticks.
Bottom row: male and female dog ticks.
The Blacklegged tick does not always have black coloured legs. Dog ticks usually have white or silver coloured spots.
Photo: Public Health Agency of Canada
Bulls-eye rash (Erythema migrans).
Photo: N.Y. Medical College
Other tick-borne diseases:Other diseases carried by blacklegged ticks are Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis (HGA) and Babesiosis which have been found infrequently in blacklegged ticks in NS. However, to date no human infections have been reported in this province.
Poster: Blacklegged ticks (Department of Natural Resources)