Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium that is spread by the bite of an infected tick. It is no laughing matter—if not treated in time, it can lead to serious consequences, such as heart problems, arthritis, or nerve damage. Fortunately, it’s easy to protect yourself against tick bites.
Where are ticks found?
Ticks can be found everywhere in the Montérégie region, mainly in:
- wooded areas, forests, undergrowth, shrubs and bushes;
- tall grass, overgrown lots;
- gardens near wooded areas, shrubs, bushes or tall grass.
- Interactive map of the Montérégie region showing the risk level of exposure to ticks - Average and high
- Elsewhere in North America, Europe and Asia.
There are a few simple preventive measures you can take to considerably lower your risk of being bitten by a tick or of developing Lyme disease. These measures are especially important before, during and after outdoor activities that take place in a wooded area or in a breeding ground for ticks (tall grass, shrubs, forest, hedges, or layer of dead leaves).
Before and during the activity
The objective is to limit direct contact with ticks. It is recommended you:
- wear long clothing;
- apply insect repellent that contains DEET (20-30%) or icaridin (20%), according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Mosquito repellents that contain other ingredients do not keep ticks away (more information: Portail Québec);
- stay on maintained trails;
- avoid contact with vegetation.
After the activity or at the end of the day
Since the risk of developing Lyme disease increases once a tick has been attached for more than 24 hours, you must remove it as quickly as possible.
Note: A tick bite is not painful. You may have been bitten without even knowing it!
- Carefully examine your entire body.
- Examine children’s bodies.
- Examine pets.
- Remove visible ticks as quickly as possible.
- Take a shower or bath (or go swimming).
- Change your clothes.
- Wash your clothes, or put them in the dryer or in the sun.
- If you find a tick, consult the section called I was bitten by a tick.
- Even if you didn’t find a tick, watch for redness, fever or other unusual symptoms in the month following the at-risk activity (for the list of symptoms, see the section called Do I have Lyme disease?).
- Consult a doctor if you develop any symptoms.
Reducing the number of ticks at source
Some habitats are less likely to harbour ticks:
- well-maintained lawns;
- ornamental shrubbery;
- urban environments, concrete, asphalt, gravel, wood or mulch surfaces.
I was bitten by a tick
Think you were bitten by a tick? The first thing you need to do is examine your body and quickly remove any ticks.
You need to act fast because the likelihood of the bacteria being transmitted increases the longer the tick is attached. The transmission risk is very low within the first 24 hours, but increases after that.
How do I remove a tick?
Consult our Fact sheet
- Fine-tipped tweezers; other tools exist to remove ticks.
- Small airtight container (e.g., pill bottle).
- Grasp the tick with the tweezers as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick.
Don’t squeeze or twist the tick’s abdomen as this increases the risk of transmitting the bacteria.
If any mouth-parts break off and remain in the skin, remove them gently with the tweezers. These parts can no longer transmit the disease.
- Place the tick in a small, dry container and store it in a cupboard.
What not to do
The objective is to remove the tick quickly without suffocating it or damaging its abdomen.
- Do not attempt to remove the tick by pinching or scratching it with your fingers, or by squishing or crushing it.
- Avoid using petroleum jelly (Vaseline), oil, rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, or any other product to remove the tick as this increases the risk of transmitting the bacteria.
What should I do after removing the tick?
- Wash your hands and the bite with soap and water.
- Disinfect the bite with a topical antiseptic (70% rubbing alcohol, iodine, peroxide, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, etc.).
- Write down the date, where you think you were when you were bitten, and where on your body you found the bite.
- Call Info-Santé 811, who could advise you to take a preventive medication if the tick bite happened in certain parts of the Montérégie, Estrie, or Outaouais regions, or outside of Québec.
- Watch for redness, fever or other unusual symptoms in the next 30 days (for the list of symptoms, see the section called Do I have Lyme disease?).
- Consult a doctor if you develop any symptoms (see the section called Do I have Lyme disease?).
What should I do with the tick?
- Place the tick in a small, dry container and store it in a cupboard.
- Bring the tick with you in the container to your doctor’s appointment. The doctor may decide to have it tested.
Do I have Lyme disease?
If not treated quickly, Lyme disease can lead to complications. Since the symptoms of Lyme disease can be similar to those of other diseases, it is important to keep a close eye out in the weeks following an activity in an at-risk environment.
The first symptoms of Lyme disease generally appear within 3-30 days after the tick bite.
Erythema migrans is the most common symptom:
- Skin rash at the site of the tick bite
- Varies in shape and size
- Not always a bull’s eye
- Expands progressively
Erythema migrans associated with Lyme disease lasts for more than 3 days, whereas a simple reaction to the bite usually disappears within 48 hours.
Other common symptoms:
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
Other symptoms possibly associated with Lyme disease
If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated early, other symptoms can appear in the weeks or the months that follow, including:
- multiple rashes;
- facial paralysis;
- pain, followed by swelling in the joints, often the knees (arthritis);
- numbness or pain in the body or limbs;
- muscle weakness;
- palpitations or irregular heartbeat;
These symptoms may come and go, and change over time.
If you have symptoms
Consult your doctor if you develop a rash or other unusual symptoms after a tick bite, or after an activity in an at-risk environment, or if you’re worried about Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is treated with a common antibiotic. The treatment is very effective if administered quickly.
- Direction de santé publique de la Montérégie
- Portail santé mieux-être: Lyme Disease
- Health Canada: Lyme disease
- Special protection against insects: Permethrin-treated clothing, approved in Canada, but available abroad (special circumstances).
Photos and video
- Consult our photo gallery - Lyme disease
- Video of live tick on a dime
- Government of Canada’s prevention video
- Videos from the Public Health Agency of Canada
- 3 videos produced by students in the Faculty of Pharmacy at Université de Montréal, in collaboration with the Direction de santé publique de l’Estrie
- Report on Lyme disease that appeared on the show Découverte (Radio-Canada) (October 19, 2014)
- Proper tick removal - New York State Health Department
Information for professionals