Ticks and Lyme Dis­ease on the Rise for 2018

Montreal Times - - News -

Although the weather this spring might have some spec­u­lat­ing whether the flow­ers will ever bloom, there is some­thing else soon sure to ap­pear, some­thing many would pre­fer not to think about; Ticks and Lyme dis­ease. In Quebec, Lyme dis­ease cases for 2017 rose ap­prox­i­mately 65% from the pre­vi­ous year, with around 300 peo­ple hav­ing been di­ag­nosed, up from around 100 cases in 2016 - and the num­bers are ex­pected to rise.

Lyme dis­ease is spread to hu­mans through bites by the 'Ix­odes Tick', more pop­u­larly known as the 'deer' or 'black-legged' tick, in­fected with the bor­re­lia burgdor­feri bac­te­ria.

It has in­creased to a de­gree that Quebec's wildlife pro­tec­tion agents have asked the gov­ern­ment to of­fi­cially rec­og­nize Lyme dis­ease as a work­place health haz­ard. Their work of­ten in­volves hav­ing them walk­ing through fields and tall grass and han­dling an­i­mals in the wild, mak­ing them more sus­cep­ti­ble to con­tract­ing the dis­ease.

The his­tory of Lyme dis­ease goes back to 1975 when a dis­con­cert­ing num­ber of chil­dren and adults re­sid­ing in the town of Lyme, Con­necti­cut in the US, ex­pe­ri­enced un­com­mon arthritic symp­toms. By 1977, the first 51 cases of Lyme 'arthri­tis' were con­firmed as di­rectly linked to the trans­mis­sion of the dis­ease through the Ix­odes Tick.

A grow­ing num­ber of cases started be­ing re­ported across the USA, Europe and un­for­tu­nately in Canada as well. These ticks are now com­monly found in the more south­ern parts of Canada; from Nova Sco­tia to Bri­tish Columbia, in­clud­ing here in the Greater Mon­treal area. There were at least 41 cases re­ported for Mon­treal in 2017.

The more ac­tive time for ticks are from spring un­til late au­tumn, but they can be ac­tive in tem­per­a­tures above 4 de­grees Cel­sius.With the ex­treme and un­pre­dictable weather we are now ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, that pe­riod is of­ten ex­tended - and they are be­ing seen in more areas across the prov­ince.

And it is not just hu­mans be­ing ef­fected by Lyme dis­ease, but pets as well. But the good news is, not all ticks carry Lyme dis­ease. In fact, the odds of get­ting a Lyme dis­ease re­lated in­fec­tion from an 'Ix­odes Tick' bite are less than 5%.

So how do you avoid get­ting bit­ten by a po­ten­tially in­fected tick? Ex­perts rec­om­mend preven­tion as the best de­fense:

• Wear light-colored long sleeve tops and pants with socks pulled up over the pant legs, espe­cially if you are out on a hike or in wooded areas. (Light colored gar­ments make it eas­ier to see if any ticks are on your clothes, so they can be re­moved be­fore get­ting on your skin) • If you can, walk along paths in­stead of through tall grass

• Use in­sect re­pel­lent • Check­ing your en­tire body for ticks af­ter time spent in wooded areas • Care­fully re­move any you find as soon as pos­si­ble

• For those in ru­ral areas, keep the grass on your prop­erty short and rake up the leaves

If you find you have been bit­ten by a tick, it is es­sen­tial to re­move it prop­erly, so as not to risk get­ting in­fected from parts that might be left in the skin.The most im­por­tant thing you should know - is how NOT to re­move a tick.The fol­low­ing meth­ods are NOT rec­om­mended:

• Burn­ing the tick off with a match or cig­a­rette lighter

• 'Suf­fo­cat­ing' the tick with pe­tro­leum jelly or oils

• Grip­ping the tick with thumb and fore­fin­ger and tug­ging at it.

In­stead, it is of­ten rec­om­mended to safely re­move it by with a pair of fine pointed tweez­ers, and a steady hand, you can grasp the mouth­parts of the tick, NOT the body of the tick, and slowly pull the tick straight out.

If symp­toms such as a rash, fever, headache, fa­tigue, neck stiff­ness and mus­cle or joint pain oc­cur within a month af­ter get­ting bite, call Info-Santé at 811 or see a doc­tor as soon as pos­si­ble.

The safest rule is, ‘the sooner you re­move the tick the greater the chance of pre­vent­ing in­fec­tion’. And don't for­get to look out for your pets as well!

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