As of summer 2020, the Northwestern Health Unit is no longer accepting ticks for lab testing. Lyme Disease is present in our catchment area and should be considered a possibility if a blacklegged tick was attached for more than 24 hours, AND from Kenora, Rainy River, Fort Frances or the areas surrounding these municipalities. Ticks can be identified by visiting etick.ca. If you have trouble using this website, call the Northwestern Health Unit at 807-468-3147 for assistance.
Tick-borne diseases occur when a person is infected with an illness from the bite of an infected tick. In Northwestern Ontario there are several species of ticks. The only species responsible for spreading tick-borne diseases to humans in our area is Ixodes scapularis (A.K.A the deer tick or blacklegged tick). Other tick species, such as the more common wood tick, are not known to pass illnesses to humans.
The Northwestern Health Unit tracks medically confirmed tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. We also perform active tick surveillance to know where ticks are in our region and if they are carrying tick-borne disease. In 2018, the Kenora region was added as an estimated risk area for Lyme disease by Public Health Ontario. Rainy River and the surrounding area was identified as an estimated risk area for Lyme disease in 2013. In 2020, Fort Frances and the surrounding area was added as an estimated risk area for Lyme disease.
Tick identification cards are available from the Health Unit that show the difference between wood (dog) ticks and the blacklegged (deer) tick that can carry tick-borne disease. You can also get a 'tick kit' that includes information and a tool to help remove ticks that are stuck in the skin.