Due to climate change, ticks that carry Lyme disease (LD), Ixodes scapularis, have been spreading northward into new territory. As a result, several southern regions of Quebec are now facing a new issue, zoonotic disease, which can cause long-term health concerns, like heart and joint problems, in people affected by the disease. This is why public health authorities in Quebec have implemented an integrated monitoring program for LD based on compiling data gathered from monitoring human cases and monitoring ticks identified through active and passive methods. However, considerable resources are needed to roll out this monitoring program, especially for tick sampling activities in municipalities of regions at risk. Moreover, workers most exposed to LD generally have jobs where it can be more difficult to ensure proper follow-up of awareness and prevention activities for this disease (seasonal work, with unusual hours in rural settings, thus geographically dispersed) or do not have access to materials in a language they can understand (especially immigrant and/or allophone workers).
The Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) carried out a training project, in partnership with Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) between January 2019 and December 2019 in areas where Lyme disease (LD) is a growing public health issue. The project’s purpose was to train ambassadors in the prevention of the disease through a cascade training approach (training of trainers). Once trained, members of this new regional network were expected to conduct LD awareness activities with their colleagues and clients, and independently perform tick sampling activities in their respective communities. In total, 18 ambassadors were trained, and 28 awareness activities were organized, reaching at least 1,860 people directly in seven separate socio-sanitary regions (SSR). During this time, 28 tick sampling activities took place, leading to 36 ticks being collected (through active and passive monitoring). Participant feedback on the project was very positive. The project clearly met a need among outdoor workers and the general population, which suggests that this type of program, combining cascade training and community-based science, has some interesting features that public health authorities could leverage to address LD prevention and monitoring in Quebec.