In this page:
- Protection and Prevention
Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of a tick carrying the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.
This disease was first described in 1977 as a result of an outbreak of arthritis in children living in the city of Lyme, Connecticut, United States.
Ticks that can transmit Lyme disease are now found in North America (North-East, North-West), Europe, Asia and North Africa.
In Canada, ticks that can transmit Lyme disease are found in the southern regions of Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, as well as in parts of New Brunswick and New Brunswick. Scotland. For more information, visit the Lyme Disease Risk for Canadians page This link opens in a new window. from the Government of Canada.
Lyme disease in Quebec
A dozen species of ticks are present in Quebec. The only species that can transmit Lyme disease in Quebec and northeastern North America is the tick Ixodes scapularis, also known as the “deer tick” or “blacklegged tick”.
Since ticks can be carried by birds, they are found in almost all areas of Quebec. However, not all ticks carry the bacteria. The greatest risk of contracting Lyme disease is present in areas where blacklegged tick populations with Borrelia burgdorferi are established. In Quebec, based on available monitoring data, these tick populations are established in the following areas:
- The north and west of Estrie;
- A large part of Monteregie;
- The southwestern Mauricie and Center-du-Quebec region;
- The southwest of the Outaouais.
Because the diagnosis of Lyme disease can in some cases be difficult to diagnose, the actual number of cases is probably higher than the number of reported cases. However, the mandatory reporting system, put in place in 2003, still allows us to monitor the evolution of the disease in Quebec.
Thus, since 2011, there has been a sharp increase in the number of Lyme disease cases reported to Quebec public health authorities as well as an increase in the proportion of cases having acquired their infection in the province. This proportion has increased from around 50% in 2013 to more than 70% since 2015.
Here are the number of cases of Lyme disease reported in Quebec since 2014:
- 125 cases in 2014
- 160 cases in 2015
- 177 cases in 2016
- 329 cases in 2017
- and 304 cases in 2018
The fact that Quebec winters are less cold than before could partly explain this progression. Softening the climate would allow ticks to survive and grow more easily.
Description Of The Tick
The tick that transmits Lyme disease in Quebec is called Ixodes scapularis and is known as the “deer tick” and “blacklegged tick”. It lives particularly in humid areas such as forests, woodlands, tall grass, gardens, landscaping and heaps of dead leaves.
Ticks have three stages of development:
At each of these stages, the tick must feed on the blood of animals or humans to move on to the next stage.
Tick bites are usually painless and often go unnoticed.
Before the tick feeds, its size can vary from 1 to 3 millimeters. The tick can triple in volume when it is filled with blood, which makes it easier to spot it in the case of a sting. Nymphs are small (about the size of a poppy seed), pass unnoticed, and usually remain attached to the person’s skin for longer before being detected. They are more active during the spring and summer months. Adult ticks are about the size of a sesame seed, so they are easier to spot, and are more active in the fall.
The symptoms of Lyme disease may vary from person to person. The onset of symptoms must be monitored because it is important that the disease is detected and treated quickly.
The first symptoms of Lyme disease usually appear between 3 and 30 days after the bite of a tick carrying the bacteria.
The most common symptom is redness on the skin that causes little or no pain or itching. It appears at the site of the bite, most commonly on the thighs, groin, armpits or trunk. It is sometimes found in places that are difficult to see, such as the back of the knees, the bottom of the buttocks or the back, the scalp, the back of the ears, the eyebrows, the navel or between the toes. Redness is present in 60 to 80% of cases of infection, but it is not always noticed. It is present at least 48 hours and spreads rapidly to reach more than 5 centimeters. The redness may be ring-shaped or target-shaped. It is sometimes very pale and may have poorly defined contours.
Many people also have fatigue, fever and body aches.
If the disease is not detected and treated quickly, the bacteria can disperse into the blood and cause other symptoms, which occur in the weeks and months after the bite. These symptoms may, for example, be the following:
- Appearance of several rednesses that spread on the skin, with little or no pain or itching;
- Paralysis of the face, numbness of a limb, pain in the neck, severe headaches;
- Swelling slightly painful to one or more joints (for example, knee);
- Chest pain, palpitations or dizziness.
When to consult
If, after being exposed to ticks, you have a redness, you can draw the contours with a pencil and take a picture. This will allow you to check if the redness is spreading.
See a doctor if you are in one of the following situations:
- The redness is 5 cm in diameter or more
- The redness persists for more than 48 hours,
- You suspect that you have one or more other symptoms of Lyme disease in the days, weeks, or months following an outdoor activity that may expose you to ticks.
If you have noticed a sting, provide the information you have noted about the sting:
- The part of the body that has been stitched
- The date and place where you were when you were stung.
If you see a doctor, bring the tick. If possible, into an airtight container such as a pill container.
If you have been stung by a tick elsewhere in Quebec, preventive treatment with antibiotics is generally not recommended. You must, however, monitor the appearance of symptoms.
If you have been bitten by a tick elsewhere in Canada or the United States, in areas where the risk of contracting the disease is high, you may also be required to take preventive antibiotic treatment.
To find out if it is best to consult a health professional, contact Info-Santé 811.
Even if you receive a preventive treatment, it is important to monitor the appearance of symptoms of Lyme disease in the months following the bite.
Treatment of the Disease
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. The nature and duration of treatment depend on the stage of infection and the symptoms present.
The treatment usually helps recover quickly and completely from the disease. However, in some people treated, some symptoms persist for several months.
If the disease has not been detected and treated quickly. It can cause problems for other organs or parts of the body. For example
- Joint problems
- Heart problems
- Neurological problems
These problems may appear in the weeks or months after the sting.
To transmit the disease, the tick must carry the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. As a result of a tick bite, the risk of developing Lyme disease is very low if the tick stays on the skin for less than 24 hours, even if you have been stung in one of the high-risk areas. . However, this risk increases if the tick remains hooked longer. It is therefore important to remove the tick from the skin as quickly as possible.
Ticks can cling to any part of the human body. They are often found in areas that are difficult to inspect such as:
- The elders
- Inside or around the ears
- The back of the knees
- The bottom of the buttocks
- Lower back
- The hair
Pets that go outside can also bring ticks into the house.
People who have already had Lyme disease can catch it again.
Lyme disease is not transmitted from an infected animal to humans or when in contact with two people.
Protection and Prevention
Ticks do not jump, fly, or drop from a high surface (for example, a branch). However, they can cling to you or your pet when you come into contact with plants in a garden, landscaping, forests, woodlands and tall grass. The best way to avoid Lyme disease is to avoid tick bites during outdoor activities such as gardening, forest walks, golf, hunting, fishing, camping, etc.
To avoid tick bites
- When walking, walk preferably in the trails and avoid tall grass.
- Use a mosquito repellent on the exposed parts of your body, avoiding the face.
- Wear a hat, closed shoes and long clothes.
- Enter your sweater in your pants.
- Enter the bottom of your pants into your socks or boots.
- When returning from an outside activity:
- Take a bath or shower as soon as possible, ideally within 2 hours of outdoor activity, to check for ticks. This will also remove ticks that are not securely attached to the skin;
- Examine your equipment (backpack, coat, etc.). This precaution is to avoid introducing a tick into your home, where it could bite someone or a pet;
- Eliminate ticks on your clothes by putting them in the dryer at high temperature for 10 minutes. If clothes are too dirty to be tumble dry, machine wash them in hot water, ideally for at least 40 minutes. Then, put them in the dryer at high temperature, for at least 60 minutes. Clothing must be completely dry
- Also check your pets because they can get ticks into your house. If you find ticks on an animal, remove them and consult a veterinarian if necessary.
To spot a tick on your body
- Wear light-colored clothes during your walks. Light colors make ticks more visible.
- Examine your entire body after an activity outdoors. Ideally, take a bath or shower within 2 hours of outdoor activity. Have someone else help you or use a mirror to examine less visible areas such as the back. Also enjoy bath time to examine the children.
To reduce the presence of ticks in your environment
- Cut tall grass and scrub around your house, and mow your lawn.
- Remove dead leaves, brush and weeds from the lawn and the edge of the wood supply and shed.
- Build woodchip or gravel paths between wooded areas and lawns, patios and play areas. Trails should be at least 3 meters wide.
- Set playgrounds away from trees in a sunny spot.
- Stack the wood carefully, sheltered and dry. This can keep rodents away, attracting ticks. Clear your yard of old furniture and accessories.