Communicable Diseases - Lyme Disease

Communicable Disease Prevention and Control

Lyme Disease - Insect and Animal-Related Diseases

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans by a bite from a 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 36 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:

  • Areas of Yarmouth County;
  • Areas of Pictou County;
  • Areas of Lunenburg County;
  • Areas of Queens County;
  • Areas of Halifax Regional Municipality; and
  • Areas of Shelburne County.

From 2002 to 2012, there have been 171 cases of Lyme disease reported in Nova Scotia . It is believed that 88 per cent of these cases were contracted within the province. The risk of contracting Lyme disease remains low.

Remember: When enjoying the outdoors it's important to do so safely and to protect from ticks.

Map

Nova Scotians are at low risk of contracting Lyme disease. However, 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.

Lyme Disease Photos

blacklegged ticks
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
Bulls-eye rash (Erythema migrans).
Photo: N.Y. Medical College

 

scientists collect ticks
Scientists collect ticks in the Lunenburg area.

 

Notes:

Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis

Another disease carried by blacklegged ticks is Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis (HGA) which has been found infrequently in blacklegged ticks in NS. However, to date no human infections have been reported in this province.