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Tick season has started early

Blacklegged ticks, which can carry bacteria that causes Lyme disease, are likely already active.
blacklegged tick new

THUNDER BAY — It's not too soon to start checking your body for ticks.

The unusually mild winter this year means blacklegged ticks are likely already active.

It's a concern because the creatures are common carriers of bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

"As soon as the snow melts and the temperatures rise, they are there. There must have been ticks active in the area for the last couple of weeks. It is going to be a very long tick season this year," said Ken Deacon, coordinator of the vector-borne disease surveillance program for the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.

He said the mild winter means the existing population around Thunder Bay has probably had a high survival rate.

"And the earlier spring means they're going to be active earlier. There probably will be more individuals that reach the adult stage as well. Therefore, there'll be an increase in the population and an increase in the risk of Lyme disease."

Public Health Ontario has identified the Thunder Bay, Kenora and Rainy River areas as among those parts of the province with an elevated risk.

For a number of years, Deacon has advised residents to take precautions to protect themselves.

"They should definitely cover up. Tuck in their socks. Be really careful about where they go into the bush, and do a tick check after," he said.

He also recommends checking pets if they've been walking in the bush or in areas such as Rabbit Mountain, off Belrose Road, where the health unit's active surveillance program finds blacklegged ticks every year.

TBDHU will again be conducting surveillance there and in four other locations around the city this year, in conjunction with the Canadian Lyme Disease Research Network.

Residents who find a suspected blacklegged tick are encouraged to bring it to the health unit or report the finding to the health unit.


Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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