May 8, 2015 1:40 pm
Updated: May 8, 2015 2:53 pm

Tick season comes early to Saskatchewan and is expanding


Watch above: Wood ticks are spreading to areas of Saskatchewan never seen before and the season is getting longer. Aaron Streck looks at what people should be doing to protect themselves and their pets.

SASKATOON – It used to be a short, isolated season but Dr. Henry Kucharski says he’s been seeing wood ticks on animals since March.

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“I was just discussing with a colleague of mine who lives along the river where the infestation is fairly heavy and wooded,” said Kucharski, owner of the All West Veterinary Clinic in Saskatoon.

“He pulled 50 off of his dog which is a big malamute, just around the neck, so they’re out there,” recalled Kucharski.

And they’re expanding to parts of the province they’ve never been seen before; climate change is suspected to be one of the reasons.

READ MORE: Ticks creeping into Sask. areas never seen before: expert

“We see more of them every year, we think they are hitchhiking on migrating birds,” said Kucharski.

It’s encouraged you protect yourself and your pets when venturing into high grass and wooded areas.

“I check her every time we go to the park, there’s long grass, we check her to make sure she doesn’t have any, we got some special tick medicine for her so hopefully that will help,” said dog owner Joanne Hamlan.

The majority of ticks in Saskatchewan are wood or dog ticks, however black-legged or deer ticks, which are about half the size, are the ones that transmit Lyme disease.

“If you’ve been exposed to ticks and you are feeling unwell, you’re feeling the fever then you do need to consult with your physician or primary care provider,” said Dr. Johnmark Opondo, deputy medical health officer for the Saskatoon Health Region.

Since 2005, Opondo says three cases of Lyme disease have been reported in Saskatchewan; in two of the cases, the disease was contracted outside of the province.

A sudden spike of the extremely rare Powassen virus in the eastern United States has prompted awareness here.

READ MORE: Testing for deadly virus in ticks expanded

Symptoms of the virus, which has been detected in black-legged ticks, include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no specific treatment for Powassen.

The CDC recommends using tick repellents, wearing long sleeves and pants, avoiding bushy and wooded areas and doing a thorough tick check after spending time outdoors.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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