Lone star tick found near London

by Jeff Helsdon | October 7, 2019

The discovery of a lone star tick near London, Ontario is yet another reason people should be on the lookout for ticks on themselves and their pets.

A London veterinarian removed a lone star tick from a client’s cat in late June. This isn’t the first lone star tick, which is named for the white spot on its back, found in Ontario.

Between 1967 and 1977, there was one submitted per year in Ontario. That number doubled from 1999 to 2014,  and averaged about 38 per year from 2005 to 2010, peaking at 83 in 2017. There were 74 confirmed in 2018.

Bug not established

 “Currently, there is no evidence of the presence of established lone star tick populations in Ontario,” said Public Health Ontario entomologist Mark Nelder. “They enter the province on people and their animals returning to Ontario after travel to the USA. Another way they can enter the province is on migratory birds. Lone star ticks can drop off into the environment when migratory birds enter Ontario.”

He said the ticks are known to carry several pathogens, including human ehrlichiosis (which causes flu-like symptons) and galactose-alpha-1, 3 galactose (alpha-gal), which causes red meat allergy.

When asked if growing numbers of reports were indicative of them becoming established in the province, Nelder replied, “Historically, lone star ticks have been spreading north in the USA, so we expect this tick to become established in Ontario in the future.”

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