Knowledge is power in Tick Awareness Month

Opinion

To the Editor:

March is Tick Awareness Month and this awareness program is in its sixth year.

This year’s theme is, “Could ticks be there? Be tick aware!” The focus is on the growing geographical distribution of ticks in North America, building on last year’s focus that tick season can be every season.

Veterinarians have taken an evidence-based approach with some having taken part in a cross-Canada survey in viewing the growing problem. It was not that many years ago that our Chief Medical Officer of Health in Nova Scotia tried to tell a group of Lyme advocates that there were no ticks in the winter … wrong answer … he was made aware.

Climate change is here and plays a role as ticks are active whenever the temperature is above 4 degrees Celsius. It is to the point that year-round treatment should be considered for your pets. With many choices available, the top priority is to practise prevention for your pets, so be sure to discuss this with your veterinarian. Be sure to check your pet whenever they come back indoors — especially the head, neck, ears, and mouth area as 50 per cent of ticks are found in these areas. A full body check is recommended at least once a day.

It is also important to be aware that if your pets can get a tick, so can you. There is a strong need to be aware for yourself and your family — dress properly when outside with long sleeves and pants tucked into socks, use repellents, put clothes in the dryer, shower and perform body checks after being in areas where ticks may be active.

I know of cases where pets have Lyme as well as their owners. Pets and people spend time together in the outdoors going for walks as well as nature hikes. I know of several people who have been bitten in their own backyards.

The question is: Where are the ticks? The tick range is ever changing and ticks can be found in every region of Canada. Ticks hitch a ride on migratory birds bringing them into new, unexpected areas. Deer act as ‘taxis,’ helping transport ticks even further. The entire province of Nova Scotia is at risk, and the risk is high. There were once areas considered to be a low risk, but no longer. Any risk is a risk; it is like being hit by a car — there is a possibility, even if the risk is low. One must keep up their awareness and look before crossing a road.

This month would be a good time to make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss what options are available to keep your pet safe. It would also be a good time to increase your awareness in order to keep yourself and family safe.

Education is key!

Brenda Sterling-Goodwin

New Glasgow