Hamil­ton is a Lyme risk area

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

RE: More ticks this sum­mer but not ones with Lyme dis­ease (June 9)

The public health alarm bells ring out for an in­creased num­ber of ticks in the Hamil­ton area. How­ever, this sup­posed in­crease may strictly be due to public aware­ness. Amer­i­can dog ticks are por­trayed as be­ing dis­ease­free, but such is not the case. Amer­i­can dog ticks carry and trans­mit pathogens caus­ing tu­larema, hu­man mono­cytic ehrli­chio­sis, ca­nine ehrli­chio­sis, and Rocky Moun­tain spot­ted fever. When Amer­i­can dog tick fe­males bite, and take a blood meal, they can cause tick paral­y­sis. Th­ese nasty tick bites can be fa­tal. Re­gard­less of species, ticks are na­ture’s dirty sy­ringes.

The coloured map of On­tario which ac­com­pa­nied the ar­ti­cle failed to show the Hamil­ton area as a Lyme dis­ease risk area. Our two-year study re­veals that this area is, in fact, a Lyme dis­ease risk area (Cat­e­gory 1, Public Health On­tario, Tech­ni­cal re­port, 2016). When we com­pare the Dun­das study area (56 square kilo­me­tres) with the to­tal health unit area (1,117 square kilo­me­tres), we ob­tained a to­tal of 290 black­legged ticks per year. This num­ber of ticks ex­ceeds the cri­te­ria for Cat­e­gory 1 de­noted at 250 ticks per year. No­tably, we found that 41 per cent of the black­legged tick adults are in­fected with the Lyme dis­ease bac­terium, Bor­re­lia burgdor­feri.

To clar­ify, ticks are not in­sects — they are arach­nids — spi­der­like crea­tures.

The state­ment, “The black-legged tick va­ri­ety don’t like the heat whereas dog ticks don’t care,” by a public health of­fi­cial is com­pletely un­founded. On hot sum­mer days, both black­legged ticks and Amer­i­can dog ticks de­scend into the cool, moist leaf litter and re­hy­drate. In win­ter, th­ese tick species again de­scend into the leaf litter and are cosy un­der an in­su­lat­ing blan­ket of snow. Ticks are eco-adap­tive. They have an­tifreeze-like com­pounds in their bod­ies, and can han­dle tem­per­a­tures in north­ern On­tario dip­ping to mi­nus-44 de­grees Cel­sius and reach­ing 36 de­grees Cel­sius. Any tick species that is na­tive to On­tario, has re­mark­able ca­pa­bil­i­ties to han­dle a wide range of tem­per­a­tures.

By the end of the ar­ti­cle, the alarm bells fade out but the Hamil­ton area is, in­deed, a Lyme dis­ease risk area. John D. Scott, M.Sc., re­search sci­en­tist, Hamil­ton

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.