3 lone star ticks have been found in Waterloo region: Public health

Region of Waterloo Public Health says in the past three years, three lone star ticks have been submitted by the public. Two were picked up while people were travelling in the southern United States and one was acquired locally.

Two were picked up while people travelled to the U.S., one was acquired locally

A bug sits on a leaf.
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a lone star tick. The tick is known to live in the southern United States but three have been found in Waterloo region: one in 2017 and two in 2018. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control/Associated Press)

There have been three lone star ticks submitted to Region of Waterloo Public Health since 2017, but only one was reported to have been "acquired locally."

The tick, which is named for the single, white spot on its back, has made headlines because a bite can cause an allergy to red meat.

Ryan Spiteri, co-ordinator of health communications for public health, said the locally acquired tick was submitted in 2017.

Two lone star ticks were submitted to public health in 2018, but "both ticks were acquired during travel to the southern United States."

So far in 2019, there haven't been any lone star ticks submitted this year, Spiteri said.

A veterinarian in London, Ont., reported recently that a lone star tick was found on a cat in that city two weeks ago.

Dr. Gillian Egli told CBC London it's unusual to see the species in this area.

"I wouldn't say that this indicates that it's endemic to the area but, yes, we are hearing more and more that this type of tick is being found in the area," she said.

Climate can support tick

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health also reported there have been nine lone star ticks have been found in the area in the past two years. 

Chuck Ferguson, manager of communications for the public health unit, said six were reported in 2018 and three in 2019. The ticks were found in all areas the health unit covers.

Katie Clow, an assistant professor in the department of population medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, has said there's no evidence yet that the lone star tick is established in Canada.

But, she noted the climate in southern Ontario could support the survival of the ticks.

Region of Waterloo Public Health noted the lone star tick does not carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. 

The lone star tick is typically found in the southern United States but can travel anywhere on migrating birds. It is usually found in areas with long grass and tree cover.

How to prevent bites

To prevent tick bites, public health recommends using insect repellant with DEET or Icaridine, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into socks, wear closed-toe footwear and stay on paths.

After a walk, check yourself and pets for ticks. If you have any, remove them quickly.

If it's a black legged tick, the kind that can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, you should submit it to public health to identify it. 

The same goes for the lone star tick.

To remove a tick, Egli recommends wearing gloves and grasping the tick close to where it has attached to the body, pulling gently but firmly straight outwards.

She says you should not use alcohol or essential oils.

"These are effective at removing the tick, but they upset the tick and the tick will vomit or regurgitate the stomach contents into the human or the animal, increasing your risk for disease," she said.

"They often don't start transmitting until after 24 hours, but that will speed up the process if we make them mad."

Watch: CBC's The National took a look at the lone star tick.

Tick makes people allergic to red meat

6 years ago
Duration 1:52
Featured VideoAllergic attacks are hard to detect because symptoms don't show up right away


  • An earlier version of this story reported two lone star ticks had been submitted to the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health in the last two years. The public health unit later corrected that number to nine.
    Jul 05, 2019 2:49 PM ET