Watch the video above: Higher number of ticks increases chance of Lyme disease
SASKATOON – A veterinarian in Saskatoon says ticks around the city are out earlier this season and in numbers never seen before.
According to Dr. Henry Kucharski with All West Veterinary Clinic, this tick population rise could increase the risk of lyme disease for humans.
“We’re seeing them as early as March as there’s still snow on the ground and right up until September,” said Kucharski.
Kucharski has been a veterinarian for over three decades and hasn’t seen the number of ticks on animals this high, this soon before.
“About 10 to 15 years ago I’d see two to three ticks on two dogs between June and July and that would be it and now we’re seeing hundreds,” said Kucharski.
“It’s important to note that the dog tick isn’t the vector of Lyme disease, it isn’t a major disease vector but it is the most common tick we find here in Saskatoon,” said Jeff Boone, the city’s pest management supervisor.
There have been sporadic cases of Lyme disease reported in Saskatchewan patients over the years. Most contracted it while travelling but a few years ago there was a single case of it being acquired in the province.
“The bacteria that causes Lyme disease requires the tick be attached to a person’s skin for at least 36 to 48 hours for that bacteria to be transmitted,” said Dr. Julie Kryzanowski, Saskatoon Health Region deputy medical health officer.
“So there is a window where a tick can be removed safely without the risk of Lyme disease.”
“Usually Lyme disease is a crippling disease and not a fatal disease in humans but it can be fatal in dogs,” said Kucharski.
There are easy ways to guard yourself against the arachnids.
The riverbank is prime habitat for ticks, they like tall grass and wooded areas. People should check their clothing and pets after taking in the sights along the South Saskatchewan River.
“Although it doesn’t look that stylish, tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants, that’s the best thing, it doesn’t allow the tick access to your skin, the other thing you can do is use insect repellant with DEET,” said Boone.
But if a tick does attach itself to you or your pet, don’t bother with Vaseline.
“You want to take a small fine tweezers and push down on the skin as much as you can and grab as much of the mouth part and pull it straight out or slightly counter clockwise,” said Kucharski.
With the tick population on the rise the last five years, Kucharski believes it is only going to worsen.
Blacklegged ticks are the type that can carry Lyme disease.