Keep your eye out for ticks already: Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation

A mild winter means we should already be keeping an eye out for ticks. David Zura explains and finds out why Lyme Disease is a growing problem in Canada.

By David Zura

The time to keep an eye out for ticks was yesterday. That is the warning from Janet Sperling, the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation president, who says the warm mild winter will likely give way to an early and strong tick season.

Sperling said they are already spotting the blood-sucking insects further and further north, with migratory birds partially to blame.

“We’re having more and more problems with ticks. We used to be able to rely on our pretty brutal winters to clean up a lot of the ticks,” she said, adding things are getting worse when it comes to Lyme disease in Canada.

“I would say that it was bad in the beginning, we had sort of sporadic cases of Lyme disease every once in a while, but now every year we get more and more people exposed to Lyme disease,” explained Sperling.

“It’s a very serious disease … Their health goes down and down and then they don’t know what’s going on. The doctor’s getting frustrated, the patient’s getting frustrated.”

For those who live in the city, there can still be a risk involved when it comes to ticks.

“When it comes to Lyme disease, if I see a deer and it’s walking down my street, I’m a little bit worried it might drop a tick, but I’m really not worried that that tick is likely to carry Lyme disease. But if I see a mouse with a tick, I say, oh no. Now I’m guessing in the GTA you have a problem with mice. Ticks that come from a mouse are more dangerous, in my opinion than ticks that actually come from a deer.”

And Sperling said people can start looking out for ticks the moment the temperatures get above zero.

For those planning outdoor activities, people are encouraged to apply insect repellent containing DEET, avoid getting right into those brushy areas and if possible, wear light-coloured long-sleeved shirts and pants, tuck your shirt into your pants, and your pants into your socks, and wear closed-toe shoes. When you get home, take a shower and check yourself head to toe.

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