Lyme Disease on the rise in New­found­land Labrador

Prov­ince rec­om­mends pre­cau­tions against ticks


Two cases of Lyme disease have been con­firmed in New­found­land and Labrador this year. The black-legged tick, or deer tick, that car­ries the disease was found on two pet dogs this spring, and the prov­ince is en­cour­ag­ing res­i­dents to take pre­cau­tions to pre­vent tick bites, which can lead to Lyme disease.

Al­though the prov­ince has lower rates of Lyme disease than the rest of Canada, the aber­rant tick has re­cently in­vaded sev­eral sites in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and is steadily mi­grat­ing to New­found­land

Of­fi­cials with the Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources have been col­lect­ing sam­ples found on dogs and cats across the prov­ince to track the tick pop­u­la­tions and de­ter­mine risk of Lyme disease for many years.

In 2010, the pop­u­la­tion of ticks in the prov­ince in­creased.

This year, sur­veil­lance has been ex­panded to in­clude the cap­ture of mi­gra­tory birds from the Bur­geo area to de­ter­mine if these birds are car­ry­ing ticks as they move north.

As more ticks mi­grate through the Mar- itime prov­inces, the chances of per­ma­nent pop­u­la­tions be­com­ing es­tab­lished in New­found and Labrador in­creases, say of­fi­cials.

While Lyme disease is rare in the prov­ince, the in­fec­tion can lead to long-term med­i­cal prob­lems if left un­treated.

The disease starts when a tick finds a new an­i­mal or hu­man host, and in­jects bac­te­ria into their bod­ies as they feed. Flu-like symp­toms be­gin 24-36 hours af­ter the start of feed­ing, and pro­duce flu-like symp­toms. If left un­treated, the ill­ness can be­come very se­ri­ous.

Dogs bit­ten by an in­fected tick are 50 per cent more likely to be­come af­fected than hu­mans. A dog’s symp­toms of Lyme disease are fever, loss of ap­petite, acute lame­ness and sore joints. The prov­ince rec­om­mends res­i­dents seek ve­teri­nary ser­vices if they find a tick on their pet.

The prov­ince also sug­gest that take pre­cau­tions such as ex­am­in­ing ex­posed skin ar­eas af­ter walk­ing in the woods for ticks, wear­ing long pants and sleeves and wear­ing in­sect re­pel­lent which con­tains DEET.

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