Testing Ticks for Lyme Disease

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 Lyme disease or the presence of the vector Ixodes species ticks in all animals is a prescribed notifiable disease for the purpose of Alberta's Reportable and Notifiable Disease Regulation (RAND Regulation) under the Animal Health Act. Notifiable diseases present in an animal are required to be reported to the Chief Provincial Veterinarian within 24 hours.

The tick surveillance being carried out by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) monitors the ticks being found on companion animals in Alberta. Companion animals act as sentinels, acquiring the same ticks that attach to agricultural animals and humans. Some of these ticks have the potential to transmit pathogens to the host. The surveillance program monitors the types of tick that are attaching to companion animals in Alberta and the level of Lyme disease in these ticks.

When a veterinarian finds a tick on an animal the following procedure is followed:

  1. Ticks should be submitted to the ARD's Parasitology Laboratory. Reference below is a link to access the Tick submission form ("how to" instructions at bottom of form). The tick will be identified to the species level and the identification reported back to the veterinarian. Certain species of tick (such as Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus) are considered likely vectors of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
  2. If the tick is identified as a potential vector, it will be tested for B. burgdorferi. The veterinarian will be notified immediately of the identification and that the tick is being tested for B.burgdorferi. Testing may take some time.
  3. While awaiting test results, the Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian (OCPV) will fax an Alberta Notifiable Animal Disease Reporting Form to the veterinarian, requesting the veterinarian to complete and return the form within 24 hours.
  4. The results of testing will be reported to the clinic and the OCPV once testing is complete.
For more information about Ticks and Lyme Disease, contact the Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian at 780-427-3448, or consult the following web pages:

Surveillance of Ticks on Companion Animals
Tick Submission Form (downloadable pdf - file size 865KB)
Lyme disease information on the Health Canada website - http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/diseases-maladies/lyme-eng.php
Lyme disease information on the Public Health Agency of Canada website - http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/id-mi/lyme-eng.php
For more information about the content of this document, contact Gerald Hauer.
This document is maintained by Jane Calvert.
This information published to the web on June 22, 2010.
Last Reviewed/Revised on February 21, 2013.