Ticks can be a threat year-round

Opinion
Pictou-Advocate-opinion

o the Editor:

While people are busy counting the days until spring, it is important to remember ticks still pose a potential threat in the winter. Ticks can be a threat year-round.

When the temperature is up it is a great relief from the bitter cold weather we’ve had, but it also means ticks will be reappearing. When the temperature is 4° C or higher, ticks will emerge to look for a host regardless of how much snow is on the ground.

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Are your pets protected? Canine test results generated by veterinarians throughout Canada from 2013-2014 were evaluated to assess the geographical distribution of canine infection with Borrelia ie Lyme. The areas of highest percent positive test results were in proximity to regions in the USA considered endemic for Lyme, ie borreliosis, including Nova Scotia (15.7 per cent) and eastern Ontario (5.1 per cent). The percent positive test results of 115,636 SNAP® 4Dx® Plus tests from dogs tested were collated by province and municipality to determine the distribution of these vector-borne infections in Canada and current up to date information is expected later this year. Using dogs as sentinels for these pathogens can aid in recognition of the public and veterinary health threat that each pose. Canaries have been used as sentinels in mining so why not make use of information from the dogs?

The CVMA Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, in partnership with Merck Animal Health for the third year has declared March as National Tick Awareness Month. Veterinarians will have information to help educate and prepare pet owners of the importance of early tick control for the coming higher tick activity seasons.

May is Lyme Awareness Month worldwide to remind people that spring is here and the ticks are out to help promote preventative measures which can be taken against this steadily growing problem. In the afternoon on Saturday, May 5, there will be a Lyme Information Session (VOCAL) in Ondaatje Hall at Dalhousie University. Mary Beth Pfeiffer, journalist/author, will be the keynote speaker and has written a book, Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change, due to be released in April. Other speakers include Andrew Hebda of the Museum of Natural History as well as researchers from Dalhousie and Dr. Vett Lloyd from Mount Allison University and hopefully a few others. Things are in the planning stage and anyone who would like to help or offer some financial sponsorship can contact Donna Macpherson Lugar donna.lugar@ns.sympatico.ca or Brenda Sterling-Goodwin blackberrybrenda@hotmail.com.

It is looking like 2018 will be a bad year for ticks and vector borne diseases, ie Lyme and co-infections, after having had a relatively mild winter and the ongoing tick population explosion.

Be aware and know how to protect yourself, your children and your pets.

Education is key!

Brenda Sterling-Goodwin

New Glasgow

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