Tick Season Has Arrived

Tick season is here. Make sure to check yourself, children and pets for ticks if you spend time in tall grass, brush or wooded areas.

The risk for Lyme disease is very low in Saskatchewan, but not zero.

Most ticks (about 96 per cent) found in Saskatchewan are the American dog tick. This species is not capable of transmitting Lyme disease to people. Rocky Mountain wood ticks and the winter tick (or moose tick) are also found in Saskatchewan.

Since 2008, 34,939 ticks have been identified through voluntary submissions in Saskatchewan and 105 were blacklegged ticks. Of the 94 blacklegged ticks mailed in for testing, 13 tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is an infection transmitted to people through the bite of a blacklegged tick infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is a serious illness that may affect the joints, the heart and nervous system resulting in long-term illness. However, if treated early with the appropriate antibiotics, most people with Lyme disease will completely recover.

Blacklegged ticks are most often found in southern British Columbia, southeastern and south-central Manitoba, southern, eastern and northwestern Ontario, southern Quebec, southern New Brunswick and Grand Manan Island, and Nova Scotia. However, Blacklegged ticks are spreading to new areas in Canada due to climate change. Established populations of blacklegged ticks have not been identified in Saskatchewan but infected ticks may be dropped off by migrating birds.

Ticks can transmit the bacteria regardless of what stage they are at in their life cycle. You may not know you have been bitten, since ticks are very small and their bites are usually painless.

Ways to protect yourself when heading outdoors include:

  • Wear pants, long-sleeved shirts and close-toed shoes or boots.
  • Pull socks over your pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs.
  • Wear light-coloured clothing so ticks can be seen easily.
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin. Apply repellent to exposed skin; always read and follow the directions on the label.
  • Wear permethrin-treated clothing (always follow label directions).
  • When hiking, stay on cleared paths or trails and avoid contact with tall grass and overgrown brush.

    When returning from outdoors:

  • Shower or bathe as soon as possible after being outside to wash off loose ticks.
  • Do ‘full body’ tick checks as soon as possible after being outside on yourself, your children, and your pets. Some ticks are quite small (the size of a pinhead or freckle), so look carefully.
  • To remove ticks from clothing, put your clothes in a hot dryer or hang them out in the sun on a hot day for at least 15 minutes. The heat can kill the ticks. Also check for ticks on any gear you had with you in the woods.

Tick Removal:

If you find a tick attached to your skin:

  • Carefully remove it with fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the parts of the tick as close to the skin as possible.
  • Pull slowly upward and out with a firm steady pressure.
  • Do not handle the tick with bare hands and be careful not to squeeze, crush or puncture the body after removal as this may also contain infectious fluids.

Find more information about ticks here:

You can also submit a photo of any ticks you find to for identification which helps with provincial monitoring.

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