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  • Writer's pictureKatie Clow

2018 Year in Review

With the completion of 2018, we thought it would be a great time to reflect on the past year at Pets and Ticks! Here is our 2018 Year in Review, based on data collected through the Pet Tick Tracker.

We received a total of 513 locally-acquired submissions and 6 travel-related submissions (i.e., outside of Canada). The first 44 submissions were through the link on the Worms and Germs Blog, and the rest were through Pets and Ticks after it’s official launch in April 2018.

Before we delve into the findings, it is important to acknowledge some limitations of this data. Since we relied on voluntary submissions, submissions may have been influenced by the number of people who are aware of and interested in the Pet Tick Tracker, as well as population density (i.e., more people in an area, more submitters in an area). Additionally, not all submissions were validated. Only if photos or actual tick samples were provided could we verify the species and life stage.

Given these limitations, this data is valuable to understand general trends. These will be explored below. This data should not be used though to rule out areas of risk (e.g., just because ticks were not submitted from an area, does not mean they are not there) or for any epidemiological calculations (prevalence, incidence).

Here are our final 2018 maps (also available here).

Tick submissions from Western Canada

Tick submissions from Ontario

Tick submissions from Eastern Canada

As you can see, the majority of submissions were from Ontario. The abundance and diversity of tick species in Ontario has been increasing in the recent past. However, as previously mentioned, it is likely that submissions were also influenced by population density and heightened awareness of Pets and Ticks from local promotional activities. One goal we have for 2019 is to continue to expand our reach, particularly in Quebec and western Canada. Please help us spread the word!

Timeline of tick submissions

Peak submissions were received in May and June, followed by October and November. This is consistent with what we know about tick activity. In the spring, it is peak time for adult American dog ticks. Adult blacklegged ticks are also active in the spring with their peak activity in the fall. Aside from understanding when risk is highest, this timeline also demonstrates that outside of these peak times, risk of tick bites still exists. This emphasizes the need to remain vigilant with your tick prevention during most or all of the year, depending on where you live.

Submission by tick species

The predominant species of ticks submitted were blacklegged ticks and American dog ticks. Given the areas where submissions were received from, this is not surprising since these are the two main dog-biting ticks in those areas. We did see a small number of lone star ticks, but no unusual patterns that make us worry that risk may be changing. The 'other' category includes ticks that the submitters did not identify, as well as a small number of brown dog ticks, gulf coast ticks and groundhog ticks.

Tick submissions by host species

Dogs accounted for the greatest number of submissions. It is well known that dogs are good tick magnets, especially since they love to go frolicking in tick habitat. What is important to also recognize from these findings is that risk to cats should not be ignored. There is a growing body of evidence supporting the idea that cats do get ticks, despite being good groomers. So when thinking about tick prevention, don't forget our feline friends.

Some of the other key findings from 2018 are:

- Adult female ticks accounted for >75% of submissions

- Single tick bites were the most common (~67%), but multiple tick bites were still frequently reported

- Ticks were most likely to be found on the head (~40%), followed by the chest and limbs

- Owners / caregivers were the most active submitters (~67% of submissions)

On behalf of all of us at Pets and Ticks, I'd like to sincerely thank you for your contributions in 2018. It is only by working together that we can enhance our understanding of ticks in Canada.

As for 2019, we have some new ideas up our sleeves. Stay tuned for more exciting developments! And please keep submitting - the annual 'January Thaw' may bring some of the ticks out of their winter slumber.

Happy New Year.


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