Ticks the Season!

You probably know by now that there is no longer a tick season in Nova Scotia, and many other areas, due to the fact that we can have tick friendly temperatures any month of the year. Therefore, you need to give ticks a thought all year if outdoors in tick habitats, or really just about anywhere.

Although they prefer shady, moist areas, there is still a chance of coming upon them in areas where you would least expect them. They can fall off a host anywhere. Migratory birds transport ticks all over the place. This means ticks can drop off birds in your yard, a park, or anywhere the birds stop to feed, or fly over.

The fact that migratory birds can bring ticks from many areas also results in the possibility of ticks carrying many things as they come from areas with different tick-borne diseases. They can also bring different types of ticks. Two services that are available in Canada to provide more information is eTick – https://www.etick.ca/ and Geneticks – https://www.geneticks.ca/about-geneticks/. One is for determining what type of tick it is and how long it may have been attached and the other is for testing a tick that was attached. Although there is a fee for tick testing, I highly recommend testing for common infections if it was attached and engorged. Although this is not a diagnostic tool, it can provide valuable information to you if symptoms arise.

At one time, not that long ago, ticks were not expected to be active until May. Therefore, May is generally known as Lyme Disease Awareness Month around the world. Since 2016, however, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has made March “National Tick Awareness Month” – https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/about-cvma/latest-news/the-2023-national-tick-awareness-month-campaign-reminds-us-that-we-have-all-the-tools-we-need-to-outsmart-ticks/. They have a great website full of information – https://ticktalkcanada.com/.

It is generally accepted that our pets can be sentinels of disease – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313866/. There needs to be more information available to the general public as to what veterinarians are seeing in dogs as that can give a good indication of what is present in different areas and at what rate. If ticks are biting our pets, there is a good chance that they could be biting us.

Many veterinary hospitals now post fairly regularly regarding ticks and tick-borne diseases – https://petfocus.ca/bedford-south/tick-trouble/. They usually have accurate, up-to-date, information, with many veterinarians now recommending year-round tick treatment.

Information is now ramping up about ticks and tick-borne diseases. However, some information can be outdated, and some can be wrong. Therefore, always check what you read and don’t share unless you know it’s accurate – especially regarding how to properly remove a tick. The federal government has a helpful video in this regard – https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/video/lyme-disease-properly-remove-tick.html.

Although our dogs have tick treatments, a Lyme vaccine, and quick tick-borne disease tests, humans are not so lucky so prevention is key. We take good care of our pets but need to take better care of ourselves.

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