To the Editor:
Be aware of ticks and the diseases they can spread as well as know where ticks may be found. Every type of tick can carry a variety of different pathogens, but they are not necessarily transmitted to their human host. Ticks are not only being found in heavily forested/wooded areas, they are in playgrounds, school grounds, park spaces, and gardens, as well as in residential yards. Be sure to protect yourself while out in the green world.
Proper dress is important. Be covered and wear full shoes with socks and pants tucked in. Use repellents. Do DAILY tick checks on yourself, children, and pets. Discuss with your veterinarian protection for your pets. Showering after coming in from outdoors and putting clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10-15 minutes is a good idea. Carefully do complete body checks as ticks can be very small.
Attached ticks of ANY kind should be taken seriously. People should be treated based on ILADS treatment guidelines, which are internationally recognized, as is cited on Public Health Canada website. Doctors here generally use the ISDA guidelines which are in need of updating. If a doctor tells you it’s a dog tick and not to worry, inform them of the serious infections they can transmit, including RMSF, Babesia, anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, etc, and inform them you as a patient have a right to be treated in order to ensure you do not end up with these infections.
If you find an attached tick, remove it carefully following safe practice instructions. The tick can be sent for identification and testing even though the province of Nova Scotia at this time has no program dealing with ticks. If you have the tick that bit you it can be sent for testing. 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 (https://www.lloydticklab.ca/submit-your-ticks.html).
Ticks can carry more than just Lyme. There is a lab in Ontario which is able to test for other pathogens in the ticks (https://www.geneticks.ca/learn-about-lyme/).
There is a need for doctors to have knowledge of vector borne diseases and zoonotics as 80 per cent of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases (EID) in Canada pose a threat to human health. The One Health approach sees the health of humans, animals and the ecosystem being interconnected. As research and knowledge events unfold new evidence is created. Consequently decisions made on the basis of present information can be seen as wrong in the future, as more evidence and a better understanding emerge. It is important to have an open mind, things are constantly changing.
The Municipality of Pictou County will be having Dr. Ryan Sommers, Medical Officer of Health with the Nova Scotia Health Authority, speaking on ticks and Lyme disease at the July 15 meeting at 7 p.m. The meeting will be in the Municipal Building on Municipal Drive in Pictou in the municipal chambers and is open to the public.
There is an information event in the works planned for September 6 at the Wellness Center with a session for health care providers from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and one for the general public 7- 9 p.m.
Education is key!^