To the Editor:
I talk with people about ticks and vector-borne diseases, ie Lyme, and have been told there are some people as well as some members of the medical profession who think this is a scam. Unfortunately it is true: ticks can carry disease, they are here and we are all at risk. There are some who are saying now that fall is just around the corner and that there is no need to be concerned, tick season is over. Wrong answer!
The tick eggs are first laid in the spring and hatch into a six-legged larvae in the summer. The larvae are active from June until September with peak activity in August. After feeding, larvae molt into the eight-legged nymph stage and remain inactive through the first winter, emerging during the second spring. The nymphs are active from May until September. The nymphs then drop off and molt to the adult. The adults are active September to May depending on the weather and peak in October and April. After mating, the female drops to the ground and lays about 3,000 eggs in the leaf litter before she dies. It is the end of the second summer and the multi-year cycle is complete. There is not a month in the year that ticks cannot be active although there are peak seasons. Awareness must be year-round. Risk is risk!
There is now also a concern for exotic ticks as ticks from Brazil, Poland, Europe and Australia have been found and submitted to Mount Allison University. These exotic ticks can carry different strains of Borrelia not tested for in Canada. It has also been shown that ticks are crossbreeding. It is uncertain what the ticks of the future may be and what diseases they may carry.
The National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) takes a One Health approach recognizing that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment. The goal of One Health is to encourage the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines — working locally, nationally and globally — to achieve the best health for people, animals and our environment. A One Health approach is important because six out of every ten infectious diseases in humans are spread from animals. The CDC, by using the One Health approach and working with physicians, veterinarians, ecologists and many others to monitor and control public health threats and to learn about how diseases spread among people, animals and the environment.
Action needs to be taken to help those suffering now from vector-borne diseases from ticks. There are so many things people can be labelled with, health conditions that could stem from having had a tick bite, another insect bite or animal bite. How many could regain their health with early and appropriate treatment? Things must change.
There has been an increase in surveillance and awareness, now what is need is treatment for those who have acquired an infection that has become chronic. Early treatment is essential in order to avoid long lingering health problems. Education is key!