Warmer weather means it’s time to watch for ticks and Lyme disease

By | May 1, 2020

WINNIPEG — While the world may be practicing physical distancing, insects like ticks aren’t.

Associate Professor of Entomology Kateryn Rochon from the University of Manitoba said as people get out and about, they need to be aware of ticks and check their clothing and bodies.

“Check yourself, check your pets, and your children. Try to prevent attachment by covering your skin with repellent and clothing,” said Rochon. ” Starting now, every Manitoban should do a daily tick check until there’s snow on the ground again.”

She said you should do this at least once a day before you go to bed. That will decrease the likelihood of you or a loved one getting a tick bite or tick attachment to your body.

Rochon said deer ticks or blacklegged ticks can carry Lyme disease, which can become very serious if left untreated.

According to the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases, signs of a tick bite include chills, headache, muscle and joint aches, and a bullseye rash. However the NCCID states if the symptoms are left untreated there can dire consequences.

One could develop heart and neurological disorders, or facial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy). There can be serious affects like leukoencephalopathy, which is a disorder of the white brain matter.

For one Manitoban, Marnie Le Page that hit close to home. Le Page is a representative for Manitoba Lyme Disease & Tick-borne illnesses. Le Page said her daughter was bitten in 2014, but was not diagnosed right away.

“She went for a whole month before realizing that it was Lyme disease. So at that time we weren’t able to get any treatment here in Manitoba at all. We had to go elsewhere to get treatment for her. She still has lasting symptoms from it,” said Le Page, adding she was diagnosed in 2015.

She said it will be something that her daughter will always have to battle.

“There are ups and downs with it all the time and we’re managing ok,” Le Page said.

Her advice to other Manitobans is don’t wait if you think you have Lyme disease symptoms – go get tested right away.

Le Page added she took her dog on a walk in the city recently on a paved path, but he went off the path for just a few moments.

“He came out and was covered in ticks, so the ticks are everywhere,” said Le Page.

Rochon said ticks can be found everywhere, not just in the country.

“Especially if you have an inviting backyard with lots of birds, smaller mammals, maybe some rabbits, mice and voles. And ticks can be on migrating birds that maybe in your backyard,” said Rochon.

Rochon said the best thing you can do is use repellent, tuck jeans into your socks, and wear long sleeves. But with the warm weather she said many may not want to wear that much clothing, so be sure to tick check as soon as you can.  

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