As the weather warms up in Canada we're going to start seeing a lot more bugs and some of them can be pretty dangerous. One of the worst bugs is ticks, which can spread Lyme disease to both humans and animals. Unfortunately, ticks are spreading in Canada and experts warn that now six provinces are at risk.
Previously ticks were only a minor problem in Canada since our climate was too cold for them, but as Canada has gotten warmer with climate change, ticks are better able to survive here. Not only are they surviving, but they're spreading further and further into the country. Now six provinces are dealing with tick problems, including Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and BC.
As Nick Ogden, from Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory told Global News, "By and large, Canada has been climatically unsuitable for the ticks but in recent decades Southern Canada has warmed, making it a much better place for ticks to set up home once they’re dropped in by migratory birds."
That's why the southern areas of those six provinces are seeing more and more ticks. Cities like Thunder Bay, Ottawa, The GTA, Gatineau, Centre-du-Québec, Winnipeg, Brandon, Moncton, Fredericton, Saint John, Halifax, and Cape Breton, among others are especially at risk. The ticks in BC are a different species than the ticks in these cities, but they are still a concern.
The biggest risk, of course, when it comes to ticks is Lyme disease. In the past ten years, the number of Lyme cases in Canada has grown exponentially. In 2009 there were 144 cases of Lyme disease reported in Canada. By 2017 this number was up to 2025 cases.
Lyme disease is spread when ticks bite and attach themselves to humans. Dr Kieran Moore, the chief medical health officer in Kingston told Global, "[ticks] want to have at least 72 hours to have a good long blood meal from us and they have an anesthetic so you don’t feel that they’re there and they’re just getting bigger and bigger, like a juicy raisin on you, and then fall off.”
The symptoms of Lyme include a bullseye shape rash, fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. If left untreated it can lead to more severe symptoms like neurological issues, heart problems, facial paralysis, and arthritis.
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to not get bit by a tick in the first place. Experts suggest wearing long sleeves and pants, in a bright colour, so you can notice if any ticks attach themselves to your clothes. They also recommend using a bug spray with DEET to help repel them.