To the Editor:
March was Tick Awareness Month for the veterinarians and May was Lyme Disease Awareness Month for the humans; it is time for year-round awareness as the problem is not going to go away.
In 2016, more than 88 per cent of the cases of Lyme reported were from Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario. Nova Scotia reported the highest incidence in Canada in 2016 at 34.4 per 100,000 population, 12.7 times the national average. The current risk assessment map for Nova Scotia shows the problem has grown exponentially and could actually be worse than they think. The incidence of Lyme in the blacklegged ticks in endemic areas in Nova Scotia is about 40 per cent and then there is the multitude of co-infections the ticks can carry.
If you or family members do get a tick bite the tick can be sent for testing to Mount A and if your pet is bitten it can be sent for testing to Dal. If the tick was on a person it can be sent to Dr. Vett Lloyd at Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB where ALL ticks are being tested for Lyme. It is not just the blacklegged tick that can carry Lyme. The turnaround time is usually two to four weeks http://www.lloydticklab.ca.
Dalhousie University is doing a study and they want your ticks! The tick could be from your pet, yourself or just one that was walking on their next meal. Seal your tick in a baggie (with a damp cotton swab if it is still alive), put it in an envelope and mail it to: Tatiana Rossolimo, Dalhousie University, 1355 Oxford Street, PO Box 15000, Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2. Please include information on where the tick came from and an email address if you would like to know the results. Please note: they are not able to test specifically for Lyme disease at this time as the study is centred on other findings.
It is important to wear a repellent and do daily full body checks on you, your family members and your pets. Check your cloths and place in a hot dryer, in recent studies as little as six minutes can kill ticks but I still like the idea of 15 minutes, then toss into the wash. This must become second nature like washing your hands or brushing your teeth. Proper removal is necessary to avoid the tick regurgitating into the bite site. Consider having a tick removal device or fine point tweezers on hand.
There is no safe attachment time; they say if attached for 24 to 36 hours you are OK. There are some co-infections that can transfer within minutes and there have been cases of Borrelia infection occurring within hours.
Awareness has grown over the past number of years and must continue. We need knowledgeable doctors to know and treat this growing epidemic.
Education is key!