May 2, 2015 10:04 am

Experts worry tick population has increased after harsh winter in the Maritimes

Ticks, responsible for the spread of Lyme disease, are spreading across Canada.

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RIVERVIEW, N.B. – A veterinarian at the Riverview Animal Hospital says he’s concerned about a possible increase in the tick populations this spring.

Dr. Francis Arsenault says any increase should be a concern for pets and their owners.

“Any level of tick infestation with Lyme is a problem and certainly if you see an increase its more of a problem,” he said.

Ticks infected with Lyme disease can infect animals and people and reported cases of the disease have been on the rise across the Maritimes.

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Unfortunately, the weather conditions this winter and spring could drive up numbers in parts of the region.

Andrew Hebda is the zoology curator at the Nova Scotia Museum. He says ticks have benefited from a mild winter and high amounts of snow insulating them from the cold.

“The habitat for the ticks has been very, very nice,” he said.

“It’s been not too cold from above and certainly without the cold and wind we’ve experienced up above.”

That’s troubling news for Sandy Tucker. Ten years ago, she says she contracted Lyme disease from a tick.

“There was exhaustion to the point where it’s almost nauseating when it hits I just have to stop and go to bed for two to three hours at a time,” she said.

She says more people need to know about risks associated with ticks and how to get a proper Lyme disease diagnosis.

“Lyme disease is a very smart disease,” she said. “It can hide itself in the body and it presents in different ways for different people.”

Lyme disease is also a concern in Nova Scotia where reported cases are on the rise.

Elaine Holmes is the Director of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control. She says people outside should take precautions.

“Make sure that your pants are tucked into your socks,” she said. “That you wear long sleeved shirts and that when you come out of that environment you really look at your body and try to determine did I pick up a tick along the way.”

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