Hundreds of infected ticks found in one yard in Canada
Just how many infected ticks are in your yard? A citizen scientist initiative found hundreds of ticks in one backyard located in St. John, Canada as part of a larger tick surveillance study, writes Lewis from Mount Allison University in Canada. 
by Daniel J. Cameron, MD, MPH
Four of the citizen scientists collectively recovered several hundred ticks over a 3-year period starting in 2014. The Saint John, New Brunswick collection process went beyond conventional flagging. “Ticks were obtained by flagging backyard vegetation with a white hand towel, removing ticks from flowers harvested in the backyard, and collecting ticks from the household cat,” according to the study, published in the journal Healthcare.
Ticks at multiple life stages, including larval, nymphal and adult ticks, were collected in the family’s backyard. The number of ticks sampled increased over the 3-year study period. Participants collected 47 larva, 372 nymphs, 15 female adult, and 1 male adults.15% of ticks collected in 1 yard, infected with bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Click To Tweet
According to Lewis, 15% of the sampled ticks in the family’s backyard (the Saint John site) tested positive for B. burgdorferi by nested PCR. At other locations, such as the Nova Scotia site, 30% of the sampled ticks tested positive for the Lyme bacteria, while 7% were infected at the Hampton site. Some sites were completely free of ticks. At one site, none of the sampled ticks were infected.
The authors suggest the low rate of ticks collected at some sites may help counter what they refer to as “tickophobia” and may provide “an increased sense of personal security outdoors and empowerment that can lead to increased use of outdoor areas for recreation.”
The number of infected ticks found in other locations, however, is concerning.
- Lewis J, Boudreau CR, Patterson JW, Bradet-Legris J, Lloyd VK. Citizen Science and Community Engagement in Tick Surveillance-A Canadian Case Study. Healthcare (Basel). 2018;6(1).