Government of New Brunswick

Testing a tick that bit you is not going to tell you whether you have Lyme disease.  However this information helps to understand how blacklegged ticks have spread in New Brunswick and identify areas where blacklegged tick populations are emerging. 

Ticks collected by the general public from themselves, pets, or wild animals can be submitted to Public Health, Regional Health Protection Branch Offices.  Save the tick in a plastic bag that you can seal or a pill bottle that can be closed.  If you cannot submit the tick for testing right away, the sealed container and tick can stored in the refrigerator, for live ticks, or the freezer, for dead ticks.

Information collected will include the submitter's name, where the tick was found, the date the tick was collected, and type of host the tick was removed from.  Ticks are then submitted to the National Microbiology Laboratory for identification of tick species and testing blacklegged ticks for the bacteria Borrelia.

There are several different species of ticks in New Brunswick:

Blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) are vectors for Lyme disease.  Adult ticks are approximately 3-5 mm in length and unfed females are dark reddish brown color.  They become paler brown to yellow as they start to feed, and are dark grey brown when fully fed.  After feeding, adult female ticks are egg-shaped and about 10 mm long.  Larvae and nymphs (immature ticks) are very small (0.15 mm long) and are grey-brown in color. 

Adult American dog ticks (Dermacentor variabilis) are larger than Ixodes ticks and are distinguished by characteristic white markings.  Immature ticks feed on small rodents, but adults are often found on people, dogs, and other domestic animals.  This species is not a vector for Lyme disease. 

The moose or winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus) is found on moose and deer and occasionally on horses, cows, dogs and humans.  Large numbers of the tiny larvae may be encountered in the fall, particularly in habitat where moose are found.  This species is not a vector for Lyme disease.



Public Health collaborates with the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, the Public Health Agency of Canada and other experts to define and monitor the occurrence of blacklegged ticks.

Ticks collected by Public Health are sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for identification to tick species.  Blacklegged ticks are also tested for Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease in people.

Approximately 1000 ticks are submitted each year.  On average, 75-80% of the submissions are Ixodes scapularis or blacklegged ticks.  The remainder of submissions include other Ixodes tick species (for example I. cookie), Dermacentor tick species (D. vairabilis, D. albipictis) and other tick species.

Blacklegged ticks have been submitted province wide, and the majority of submissions are from southern New Brunswick.  This is illustrated by the figure showing the number of tick submissions by New Brunswick counties.

Blacklegged ticks are vectors for Lyme disease.  On average, 12% of the blacklegged tick submissions are positive for Borrelia burgdorferi.  This is comparable to infectivity rates in blacklegged ticks seen throughout Canada.