Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is an infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which in Ontario is carried by the black-legged tick. The disease spreads when an infected tick bites a person.

If you find a tick on your body it's important to remove it with tweezers as soon as possible. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme Disease is small.

A circular rash referred to as a "bull's eye" rash could be one of the earliest symptoms of an infection.

Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills and swollen lymph nodes.

circular rash, which looks like a red bullseye


Note: If you develop a "bull's eye" rash, fever, chills or extreme fatigue or feel like you have the flu, it's important to seek medical attention and if known to tell your doctor when and where you were bitten. Lyme Disease can have serious health consequences if left untreated. 

Areas of risk

The ticks are not commonly found in Waterloo Region. However, they are present from May to July along the north shore of Lake Erie, in particular:

  • Long Point Provincial Park
  • Point Pelee National Park
  • Rondeau Provincial Park
  • Turkey Point
  • Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area
  • St. Lawrence Island National Park
  • Wainfleet Bog Conservation Area

a tick on a leaf 


For your reference: Ontario, 2015 map of known black-legged tick population.

How to protect yourself

Fact: Ticks are tiny!

Before they feed, they are the size of a sesame seed.

a tiny tickTick at actual size  (3-5 mm)

  • Wear light-coloured clothing. This makes it easier to find ticks on your body.
  • Cover up with long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Tuck your pants into socks.

Fact: Ticks can't jump or fly! 

They prefer wooded and bushy areas with high grass and plenty of leaves on the ground.

They wait on low vegetation and then attach to hosts. 

  • When hiking, stay on the path and avoid contact with overgrown brush, vegetation and leaf litter.
  • After time outdoors, carefully check your clothing and entire body for ticks.

Fact: Hungry ticks can be deterred! 

  • When outdoors, use an insect repellent containing DEET. Eucalyptus plant compounds and soybean oil are additional options. Always apply according to manufacturers' instructions.

Fact: The longer a tick is attached, the higher risk of infection ! 

The longer a tick is attached to your body, the higher the risk of infection with Lyme Disease.

If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme Disease is small. 

If you find a tick on your body:

  • Use fine-pointed tweezers to grab the tick's head and mouth parts as close to your skin as possible.
  • Pull slowly.
  • Do not twist or rotate the tick and try not to damage it.
  • Place the tick in a plastic container or bag so Public Health can test it.
  • Thoroughly wash the area where you were bitten with soap and water.
    Public Health can test ticks for Lyme Disease. 
  • After removing a tick from your body, call Public Health at 519-883-2008 ext. 5147

For more information

Region of Waterloo Public Health
2014 Vector Borne Disease Summary Report 

Region of Waterloo Public Health
Fight the Bite Brochure

Public Health Ontario
Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease Fact Sheet

Public Health Ontario
Update on Lyme Disease Prevention and Control - Technical Report

Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC)
Ontarians Reminded to Protect Themselves Against Mosquitoes and Ticks - News Release - August 11, 2011

Lyme Disease website for the Province of Ontario:

Lyme Disease: Frequently Asked Questions:

Canadian Family Physician: Lyme Disease, a zoonotic disease of increasing importance to Canadians.

The Laboratory diagnosis of Lyme borreliosis: Guidelines from the Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network. Canadian Journal of Infectious Disease Microbiology, Volume 18, Issue 2, March/April 2007.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.A.):

Region of Waterloo Public Health, Health Protection and Investigation Information Line: 519-883-2008 ext. 5147