Increasing tick populations a cause for concern for horse owners

Share
Removing a tick with a tick puller, which has a notch that can slide under the tick to grab it and easily remove it.
Removing a tick with a tick puller, which has a notch that can slide under the tick to grab it and easily remove it.

The expansion of tick populations, particularly blacklegged ticks, pose an ongoing risk for horses and people, a real concern when it comes to Lyme disease.

Dr Luis Arroyo, a researcher at the Ontario Veterinary College, was involved in a study on the growing numbers of ticks in southeastern Canada and the risk factors to horses.

Recently, the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis), which is the vector of Borrelia burgdorferi, has undergone a range expansion from the northeastern and mid-west United States to areas of southeastern Canada, including parts of Ontario.

In the below video, Arroyo dispels some of the myths for what not to do when removing a tick, such as using lighter, petroleum or baby oil.

Arroyo also gives advice on how to remove the tick by gently easing it out. For example, twisting or squishing may cause the tick to further embed its mouth parts and increase the risk of disease transmission.

Keeping grass trimmed and avoiding tall grass when out hacking are just some of the tips he shares.

Finding the tick early and removing it right away also reduces the risk, so daily checks when grooming are very important.

Arroyo says it is important to put the tick into a bottle to send to a veterinarian, who can identify if the tick is of a species of concern.

There is also a free app named eTick for photo submissions to help identify what type of tick has been found, and if it is one that may harbour the Lyme Disease bacterium.

The abstract for Arroyo’s study, “Seroprevalence and evaluation of risk factors associated with seropositivity for Borrelia burgdorferi in Ontario horses”, can be read here.

» Read Ticked Off!, Equine Guelph’s information sheet on tick removal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *