Ixodes scapularis ticks collected by passive surveillance in Canada: analysis of geographic distribution and infection with Lyme borreliosis agent Borrelia burgdorferi

J Med Entomol. 2006 May;43(3):600-9. doi: 10.1603/0022-2585(2006)43[600:ISTCBP]2.0.CO;2.


Passive surveillance for the occurrence of the tick Ixodes scapularis Say (1821) and their infection with the Lyme borreliosis spirochaetes Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. has taken place in Canada since early 1990. Ticks have been submitted from members of the public, veterinarians, and medical practitioners to provincial, federal, and university laboratories for identification, and the data have been collated and B. burgdorferi detected at the National Microbiology Laboratory. The locations of collection of 2,319 submitted I. scapularis were mapped, and we investigated potential risk factors for I. scapularis occurrence (in Quebec as a case study) by using regression analysis and spatial statistics. Ticks were submitted from all provinces east of Alberta, most from areas where resident I. scapularis populations are unknown. Most were adult ticks and were collected in spring and autumn. In southern Québec, risk factors for tick occurrence were lower latitude and remote-sensed indices for land cover with woodland. B. burgdorferi infection, identified by conventional and molecular methods, was detected in 12.5% of 1,816 ticks, including 10.1% of the 256 ticks that were collected from humans and tested. Our study suggests that B. burgdorferi-infected I. scapularis can be found over a wide geographic range in Canada, although most may be adventitious ticks carried from endemic areas in the United States and Canada by migrating birds. The risk of Lyme borreliosis in Canada may therefore be mostly low but more geographically widespread than previously suspected.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / isolation & purification*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Insect Vectors
  • Ixodes / microbiology*
  • Lyme Disease / epidemiology
  • Population Density
  • Seasons