Subject Categories: Epidemiology

Citation: Emerging Microbes & Infections (2015) 4, e33; doi:10.1038/emi.2015.33
Published online 10 June 2015

Major emerging vector-borne zoonotic diseases of public health importance in Canada

Manisha A Kulkarni1, Lea Berrang-Ford2, Peter A Buck3, Michael A Drebot4, L Robbin Lindsay4 and Nicholas H Ogden5

  1. 1School of Epidemiology, Public Health and Preventive Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, K1H 8M5, Canada
  2. 2Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, QC, H3A 0B9, Canada
  3. 3Zoonoses Division, Centre for Food-borne Environmental and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0K9, Canada
  4. 4Zoonotic Diseases and Special Pathogens Division, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada, Winnipeg, MB, R3E 3R2, Canada
  5. 5Zoonoses Division, Centre for Food-borne Environmental and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Public Health Agency of Canada, Ste-Hyacinthe, QC, J2S 7C6, Canada

Correspondence: MA Kulkarni, E-mail:

Received 27 January 2015; Revised 22 April 2015; Accepted 6 May 2015



In Canada, the emergence of vector-borne diseases may occur via international movement and subsequent establishment of vectors and pathogens, or via northward spread from endemic areas in the USA. Re-emergence of endemic vector-borne diseases may occur due to climate-driven changes to their geographic range and ecology. Lyme disease, West Nile virus (WNV), and other vector-borne diseases were identified as priority emerging non-enteric zoonoses in Canada in a prioritization exercise conducted by public health stakeholders in 2013. We review and present the state of knowledge on the public health importance of these high priority emerging vector-borne diseases in Canada. Lyme disease is emerging in Canada due to range expansion of the tick vector, which also signals concern for the emergence of human granulocytic anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus. WNV has been established in Canada since 2001, with epidemics of varying intensity in following years linked to climatic drivers. Eastern equine encephalitis virus, Jamestown Canyon virus, snowshoe hare virus, and Cache Valley virus are other mosquito-borne viruses endemic to Canada with the potential for human health impact. Increased surveillance for emerging pathogens and vectors and coordinated efforts among sectors and jurisdictions will aid in early detection and timely public health response.


Canada; emerging infectious disease; Lyme disease; prioritization; public health; vector-borne disease; West Nile virus; zoonosis