Managing tick-related risks in outdoor environments
Rising climactic temperatures and other environmental changes such as human-led disturbances of the natural environment have contributed to an expansion of suitable habitats for ticks in Canada and the United States. This has led to the enhanced survival, reproduction, and accelerated maturity of ticks, and has consequently resulted in an increase in transmission of tick-borne pathogens to humans. Lyme disease is the most prevalent tick borne illness and has now been reported in every province in Canada. In 2019, Canada reported 2636 cases of Lyme disease – a rapid increase since 2009’s 144 cases. Four other tick-borne diseases have begun to emerge in Canada and are likely to increase. These include: Anaplasmosis; Babesiosis; Powassan virus; and Borrelia miyamotoi disease. The people most at risk of developing tick-borne illnesses are those who spend extended periods of time outdoors, whose primary or secondary residence is in or near an endemic area, or those who are either very young (5-9 years of age) or older (55+). Higher-risk activities include but are not limited to: golfing, camping, fishing, hiking, gardening and hunting. Reduction of tick-related risks can take the form of personal risk reduction (e.g. wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants tucked into socks, wearing permethrin-treated clothing or accessories, checking body regularly for ticks, wearing insect repellant containing DEET…etc.), or environmental management such as population control of host animals and landscape modification.
About the project
This project aims to gather and synthesize information on the increasing public health risks associated with ticks as a result of climate and land-use changes, and to review environmental design and management strategies that can be implemented to reduce these risks. The findings will be used to create a toolkit to support city planners, landscape designers, park contractors and others working in managing public and private outdoor environments to aid evidence-informed decision-making with regard to effective tick reduction and management.
A review of ticks in Canada and health risks from exposure (Elmieh, Aug 2022)
This review summarizes the risk factors associated with tick exposure in Canada, as well as the health impacts of tick-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Babesiosis, among others. Interventions to reduce personal exposure to ticks are also highlighted.
The impacts of climate and land use change on tick-related risks (Elmieh, Nov 2022)
This review focuses on the impacts of climate change and land-use changes on tick exposure in Canada, highlighting the importance of surveillance programs in both traditional and non-traditional tick habitats.
Review of environmental management strategies to reduce tick populations (Elmieh, Mar 2023)
This review examines environmental management strategies that have been used to reduce tick habitats and tick-borne disease transmission in parks and other outdoor recreational areas. The role of citizen science and risk communication tools are also explored as strategies to limit tick encounters.
Ticks in a changing environment (Elmieh, May 2023)
This easy-to-reference resource summarizes how best to design and manage outdoor environments to reduce tick habitat, and outlines steps one should take to reduce the risk of getting bitten by a tick when recreating or working outdoors. It is intended for parks professionals and users, landscape designers, and residential property owners.
About the author
Dr. Negar Elmieh
BSc, University of Victoria; MS & MPH, Tufts University; PhD, University of British Columbia
Dr. Negar Elmieh is a Professor at Quest University in BC, Canada. She is an interdisciplinary researcher and educator and an advocate for health and environmental issues. Her interests lie at the intersection of environmental health and risk communication with a focus on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.