Manitoba Health, Seniors and Long-Term Care is reminding people to be vigilant about ticks, take steps to prevent bites and know when to seek treatment. Blacklegged ticks, often called deer ticks, are a risk to human health because they can transmit diseases like Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powassan virus disease. These diseases can all be serious, particularly in older adults, young children or people with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions.

Public health officials recommend visiting a health-care provider within 72 hours of removing a tick to receive preventative treatment for Lyme disease if:

  • the bite was from a reliably identified blacklegged tick; and
  • the tick was attached for 36 hours or more, or the tick was engorged (filled with blood).

Blacklegged ticks may be found anytime snow is not on the ground, with peak activity in spring and fall. Due to the health risk posed by blacklegged ticks, it is important to be able to distinguish between them and the more common wood tick. While wood ticks are a nuisance, in Manitoba these species do not transmit diseases. Blacklegged ticks have a red-orange body, black legs and a black spot on their back, and are smaller than wood ticks. Adult females are about the size of a sesame seed. When attached and feeding, blacklegged ticks become larger and change colour to grey and brown. Wood ticks are larger, brownish in colour, with white markings on their back. Photos comparing wood ticks and blacklegged ticks are available at:

Anyone who finds a tick on animals, humans or in various habitats can submit a picture to have it identified by experts, to confirm if the tick belongs to a species capable of transmitting diseases. For more information or to submit a picture of a tick, visit

Reduce your risk of tick bites and disease exposure by:

  • applying an appropriate tick repellent on exposed skin and clothing, following label directions;
  • wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts;
  • tucking in clothing to create a barrier;
  • staying to the centre of walking trails;
  • inspecting yourself, children and pets after spending time outdoors;
  • removing ticks as soon as possible from people and pets, using tweezers; and
  • keeping grass and shrubs around homes cut short to create drier environments that are less suitable for tick survival.

Milder winters and shifting weather patterns caused by climate change means ticks are expanding their geographical range to more regions of the province, although southern Manitoba remains the highest risk area.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. To learn more about blacklegged ticks, tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, prevention and treatment, visit