Committee Opinion No. 399: Management of Tick Bites and Lyme Disease During Pregnancy

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2020 May;42(5):644-653. doi: 10.1016/j.jogc.2020.01.001.


Objective: Lyme disease is an emerging infection in Canada caused by the bacterium belonging to the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato species complex, which is transmitted via the bite of an infected blacklegged tick. Populations of blacklegged ticks continue to expand and are now established in different regions in Canada. It usually takes more than 24 hours of tick attachment to transfer B. burgdorferi to a human. The diagnosis of early localized Lyme disease is made by clinical assessment, as laboratory tests are not reliable at this stage. Most patients with early localized Lyme disease will present with a skin lesion (i.e., erythema migrans) expanding from the tick bite site and/or non-specific "influenza-like" symptoms (e.g., arthralgia, myalgia, and fever). Signs and symptoms may occur from between 3 and 30 days following the tick bite. The care of pregnant patients with a tick bite or suspected Lyme disease should be managed similarly to non-pregnant adults, including the consideration of antibiotics for prophylaxis and treatment. The primary objective of this committee opinion is to inform practitioners about Lyme disease and provide an approach to managing the care of pregnant women who may have been infected via a blacklegged tick bite.

Intended users: Health care providers who care for pregnant women or women of reproductive age.

Target population: Women of reproductive age.

Evidence: In November 2018, Medline, EMBASE, PubMed, and CENTRAL databases were searched for 2 main categories: (1) Lyme disease and (2) other tick-borne diseases. Because the main focus was Lyme disease, and considering the limited number of the articles, no further filters were applied for publication time or type of study. For other tick-borne diseases, the results were restricted to a publication date within the last 10 years (2008-2018). The search terms were developed using MeSH terms and keywords including Lyme Disease, Pregnancy, Pregnant Women, Pregnancy Complications, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, Tularemia, Powassan Virus, Encephalitis Viruses, Tick-Borne, Tick-Borne Diseases, Colorado Tick Fever, Q Fever, Relapsing Fever, and Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness. All articles on Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases with a target population of pregnant women were included; other groups and populations were excluded.

Validation methods: The content and recommendations of this committee opinion were drafted and agreed upon by the authors. The Board of Directors of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada approved the final draft for publication.

Keywords: Borrelia burgdorferi; Lyme disease; infection; pregnancy; ticks.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Canada
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease* / diagnosis
  • Lyme Disease* / drug therapy
  • Lyme Disease* / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*
  • Tick Bites* / prevention & control
  • Tick Bites* / therapy
  • Tick-Borne Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Tick-Borne Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Ticks


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents