Female blacklegged ticks in various stages of feeding. Note the change in size and colour.pdf
OTTAWA, May 12, 2014 /CNW/ - Lyme disease is a serious illness that's
present in Canada and spreading. Canadians at risk from Lyme disease
include those, who live, work and/or play in close proximity to ticks
that spread the disease.
If not identified and treated early, Lyme disease can cause serious
health issues. But there are simple and effective measures you can take
to protect against it.
As you prepare to spend time outdoors, learn more about Lyme disease and
how to prevent it.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a serious illness which can be spread by the bite of blacklegged
ticks that are infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.
In regions where blacklegged ticks are found, people can come into
contact with ticks by brushing against vegetation while participating
in outdoor activities, such as golfing, hiking, camping and gardening.
Risk to Canadians
While not all blacklegged ticks carry Lyme disease, populations of
infected blacklegged ticks are growing. This means that the risk of
contracting Lyme disease is on the rise across Canada.
Blacklegged ticks can be active throughout much of the year; however,
your risk of a tick bite is highest in the spring and summer months.
Take steps to reduce your risk if you spend time outdoors in areas
where there may be ticks. As ticks are very small and their bites are
usually painless, you may not know you've been bitten, so it's
important to be on the lookout for ticks and the symptoms of Lyme
Where are ticks found?
Blacklegged ticks are most often found in forests and the overgrown
areas between the woods and open spaces, although it's possible to be
bitten outside of these areas. The following are areas where
blacklegged tick populations have been confirmed or are establishing:
Southern British Columbia
Southeastern and south-central Manitoba
Southern and eastern Ontario
Southern New Brunswick and Grand Manan Island
South shore and northern mainland Nova Scotia
Ticks don't move far by themselves but they can attach to migratory
birds, and may fall off far from their original location. For this
reason, it's possible to find infected ticks in other areas than the
ones listed above. Surveillance is ongoing to confirm other areas of
How to protect yourself
Canadians are encouraged to spend time outdoors, be active and to
remember to protect themselves against tick bites and Lyme disease.
Ticks can be infected with more than one type of bacteria that can
cause human illness, hence guarding against tick bites will protect you
from more than just Lyme disease.
Here are some ways to protect yourself if you venture into forests or
overgrown areas between the woods and open spaces:
Wear closed-toe shoes, long-sleeved shirts and pants
Pull your socks over your pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up
Wear light-coloured clothing to spot ticks easier
Use insect repellents that contain DEET or Icaridin. Repellents can be
applied to clothing as well as exposed skin. Always read and follow
Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to wash away loose
Do daily "full body" checks for ticks on yourself, your children and
If you find a tick on your skin, removing it within 24-36 hours usually
Initial symptoms differ from person to person, and some people will not
experience any symptoms, which makes Lyme disease very difficult to
diagnose. Furthermore, others may experience mild symptoms like fever
or a skin rash soon after being bitten, while others may suffer severe
symptoms, but not for weeks after the bite.
Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease can include one or a combination of
the following with varying degrees of severity:
Fever or chills
Muscle and joint pain, spasms, or weakness
Numbness or tingling
Swollen lymph nodes
Cognitive dysfunction, dizziness
Nervous system disorders
Arthritis and arthritic symptoms
Untreated, symptoms can last years and include recurring arthritis,
neurological problems, numbness and paralysis. Although not common,
fatalities from Lyme disease have been reported.
If you develop symptoms of Lyme disease, contact your healthcare
provider right away, as the earlier you receive a diagnosis, the
greater the chance of a successful treatment. If you saved the tick
that bit you, bring it with you to your medical appointment as it may
help the doctor in assessing your illness.
Getting a diagnosis of Lyme disease can be difficult because symptoms
vary from one person to another and may be similar to other infectious
diseases that are spread by ticks. Your healthcare provider will
examine your symptoms
determine if you were potentially exposed to ticks by asking about your
get results from laboratory blood testing to further support a clinical
diagnosis, if necessary
Your symptoms are a really important part of getting a diagnosis,
because lab results may not always detect Lyme disease in the early
stages, of if you were recently on antibiotics. Blood tests are clearer
when the disease is further along. All lab tests have a margin of error
which is why Lyme disease should be diagnosed by a doctor clinically
first and foremost. Results of lab tests can be used as supportive
Lyme disease can be effectively treated with two to four weeks of
antibiotics. Depending on your symptoms, and if you are diagnosed in
the later stages of the disease, you may require a longer course of
Some people experience symptoms that continue more than six months after
treatment. Research continues into the causes of these persistent
symptoms and methods of treatment.
What the Public Health Agency of Canada is doing
The Public Health Agency of Canada is committed to working with
provincial health authorities and other partners to address the risks
to Canadians posed by Lyme disease through a number of activities:
Enhanced surveillance to improve the current data of where the disease
is emerging and where populations are at risk;
Collaboration with family practitioners to enhance their knowledge and
capacity for prompt diagnosis and treatment; and
Development of information for public health practitioners on
surveillance, prevention and control.
The Agency has also recently developed a three-year Action Plan on Lyme Disease that serves to lessen the disease's impact through continued and
enhanced stakeholder engagement, public and clinician education, and
enhanced surveillance, as well as research, to improve diagnosis.
PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2014/05/12/20140512_C7828_DOC_EN_40200.pdf
SOURCE: Public Health Agency of Canada
For further information:
Public Health Agency of Canada