2013 Conference of the International Medical Geology Association (25–29 August 2013)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 3:50 PM


CHEN, Dongmei, Department of Geography, Queen's University, 99 University Avenue, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada, chendm@queensu.ca

Lyme is an emerging disease in Canada. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), by the year of 2020, 80% of Canadians will live in Lyme endemic areas. There were reports on the rising number of ticks carrying Lyme disease in eastern Ontario, however, no detailed spatial evidence has been demonstrated. Through the application of GIS mapping methods and spatial analysis techniques, this study examines population dynamics of the black-legged tick and its primary host, the white-tailed deer, as well as their relationship with the climate condition over time in eastern Ontario. By using tick submission data collected from two public health units between 2006 and 2011, a series of maps were produced to illustrate the spatial and temporal distribution of tick populations in eastern Ontario. An evident northwards expansion of ticks into eastern Ontario was demonstrated in these maps, and a rapid increase in the number of submitted ticks carrying Lyme disease was also identified. A habitat suitability analysis was conducted to analyze the relationship between deer suitability map and endemic ticks in eastern Ontario. The results suggest that a positive relationship could exist between them. These results are useful for developing management strategies which aim to prevent Lyme from becoming a threat to public health in Canada. Further studies are required to investigate how tick survival, behaviour and seasonal activity may change with projected climate change.
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