Examine pets for ticks, warns officials
The animal health division of the Department of Natural Resources is encouraging pet owners to examine their pets for deer ticks.
A significant number of deer ticks found on pets have been reported across the island portion of the province, although none have been reported in Labrador.
Deer ticks can attach themselves to any warm-bodied host including humans, and are responsible for spreading Lyme disease in animals; however, only dogs and humans are known to get sick from the disease.
“ We have had two known cases of Lyme disease in animals in this province in the past, in 2004 and 2006, both in dogs on the west coast,” says Dr. Hugh Whitney, Chief Veterinary Officer.
“ So far in 2010 we have seen 19 deer ticks from across the island, almost all removed from pet dogs, with one coming from a cat.”
Anyone finding a tick on their pet should remove it carefully with tweezers and take it to their local veterinary clinic where any risk of Lyme disease infection can be evaluated.
Deer ticks that attach themselves to migratory birds each spring spread lyme disease.
Between 10-15 per cent of deer ticks tested in this province carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
The deer tick exists permanently in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia with no known permanent populations in this province.
The symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include lameness, loss of appetite, fever and loss of energy. Affected animals usually respond well to treatment.
“ Human Lyme disease is an infection that begins in the skin at the site of the tick bite. It can produce general flu-like symptoms that can progress to more serious systemic disease if not treated early,” says Dr. Faith Stratton, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“ The tick should be removed carefully from the skin with a pair of tweezers as soon as possible to prevent infection. Anyone who has been bitten by a tick carrying the bacteria is at risk and should seek medical attention if a skin lesion appears.”
No human cases of locally acquired Lyme disease have been reported in this province, although cases have been diagnosed elsewhere in Canada.
For more information on ticks and Lyme disease go to: www. gov. nl. ca/ agric/ animal_ diseases/ or contact Dr. Hugh Whitney 709-729-6879.