Tick season arrives in Manitoba; officials warn of new illnesses

Modesto Morganelli
Mag 17, 2018

As tick season arrives into full swing in Canada, officers in Manitoba are warning the citizens that Lyme disease is not the only thing to be on the lookout for.

Powassan or Deer Tick virus, and Borrelia Miyamotoi bacteria have been found in black legged ticks in the province. Unlike Lyme disease, rashes are uncommon.

"You treat it with the same as for Lyme", Dr. Richard Rusk, medical manager of communicable diseases at Manitoba Public Health, reported.

Symptoms of Borrelia miyamotoi are similar to that of Lyme disease and include chills, fever, and headache.

"Our protocol says if you are suspicious for Lyme disease, you start treating", said Rusk. - A good way to worry a lot less about ticks is to have your pet on a regular flea and tick prevention. Both conditions were listed as emerging tick-borne diseases in a recent letter from Manitoba Public Health. "We mentioned Powassan as well, but the risk on that is substantially lower". "If left undiagnosed and untreated that can progress in a more serious disease what we call the chronic form where it can lead into organ disease such as kidney disease".

For Manitoba Lyme Disease, the key to prevent the tick-borne illnesses from spreading to humans is to make sure that people are aware they exist. Rusk says Borrelia miyamotoi can be detected by a simple blood test.

A sign warning of ticks in the area at Rouge Park
A sign warning of ticks in the area at Rouge Park

"The physician has to be thinking: 'Could this be something else beyond the ones that we normally get?'" told Rusk.

According to health officials, people should cover up when heading into any area where there could be ticks, along with tucking trousers into socks, using tick repellent, and doing a thorough tick check upon returning inside.

Avoid Tick Heavy Areas - When walking your dog, avoid woods, tall grasses, overgrown shrubs and decaying leaves on the ground. Ticks typically don't live out in the open but more-so where your yard might borders a wooded area or if you have gardens and shrubs your pets get into.

Anyone who finds a tick can send an image of the insect to Manitoba's Tick Checker and they will be able to tell you what kind of tick it is, and if the bug should be sent in for testing.

According to the CDC there were over 73,000 tick-borne disease cases here in the keystone state between 2004 and 2016.

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