Hitch-Hikers Lurking in Brampton, Ontario

I’m sure you are sick of us here at Snelgrove Vet always talking about ticks, but this week we had a dog brought in to have a tick removed that we typically don’t even see in Ontario! When we removed the tick, I have to admit, the staff here had different opinions of what type of tick it was. However, one thing we could all agree on was the small white dot present on it’s back. The only tick we know of that has that dot is The Lone Star Tick (which gets its name from that spot.) This tick is predominately found in the eastern, south-eastern and central United States.

So, what exactly does that mean?

In order to confirm the identity of this mystery tick, we sent it to our local laboratory for definitive identification. And yes, we were right – it was indeed a Lone Star tick. Now the big question was, where did it come from and how did it end up in Brampton, Ontario??

We asked the owner “Have you been travelling?” “Have you had someone come visit you?” “Have you taken your dog anywhere?” and the answer to all of our questions was, “No, our dog has not left our backyard.” We then decided to give the laboratory a call and speak to the parasitologist. We asked him, “Are you sure of your identification?” Definitely not a question to be asking a professional with a medical degree, but we did it anyway. And yes! It is a Lone Star tick and although they are not native to Ontario they are found here occasionally – usually hitching a ride on a migratory bird. Now that’s hitch-hiking!

Due to their voracious appetite, the Lone Star tick actively seeks people and animals to feed from. Yuck.

Now, our question to you is: Do you love Hamburgers and Steaks?

If the answer is yes, then here’s a scary piece of information… A bite from this tick can actually make you seriously allergic to red meat! Yep, you heard us right – allergic to the point of going into anaphylactic shock and taking an emergency trip to the hospital.

As if that isn’t bad enough, they can also cause a myriad of other health issues as well, such as Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (S.T.A.R.I.), Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis and tularemia. And, although it is not yet proven that these ticks carry Lyme disease, some studies are starting to question otherwise.

In light of the discovery of this Lone Star tick on one of our patients here in Brampton, it’s probably a good thing we talk about ticks so often! 😉