After bringing her 20-month-old son to a soccer game at Loyola Park in NDG, Sandrine Campeau noticed a bulls-eye-shaped rash on his arm the next morning.
A bullseye rash is a clear calling card of a tick bite. Ticks are parasites that can cause Lyme disease.
Campeau didn’t want to take any chances, and decided to bring her son to the emergency room the next morning. The doctor couldn’t confirm it was a tick bite.
“They wouldn’t be able to confirm 100 per cent because I didn’t have the tick. It was inconclusive,” Campeau told Global News.
Her son was prescribed antibiotic amoxicillin as a precaution, but she’s been left with a bad taste in her mouth.
“I think this is a new issue that they’ve had so they weren’t quite sure how to handle it. When I asked them what it is if it’s not that, they couldn’t answer,” she said.
Experts say ticks and Lyme disease are not a big problem in Montreal.
“Montreal in itself isn’t considered a high-risk area for Lyme disease,” said Dr. Marie-Astrid Lefebvre, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at McGill. “Certain regions in Quebec are, like the Monteregie area, Eastern Townships, Estrie.”
Cote-des-Neiges/NDG says they aren’t aware of a tick problem in the borough, and that public health hasn’t issued them any warnings.
But Arlene Rill, who got Lyme disease after a tick bite, believes there is a problem. Rill advocates for people to take ticks and Lyme disease more seriously.
“I heard that there were ticks at Loyola Park,” she said, citing community members who had reached out to her.
Rill lives with the debilitating disease, but it took years for her to be diagnosed. The pain in her joints caused by Lyme disease makes it hard for her to climb stairs. She thinks doctors don’t diagnose Lyme disease enough, but Dr. Lefebvre disagrees.
“We treat this like any other infection we diagnose. If the symptoms match the disease, absolutely,” Lefebvre told Global News.
She says if you ever notice a clear bulls-eye rash, to get to a doctor.
“If you’re going out in forest-y areas or camping or whatnot, it’s ideal to wear long clothes. Light-coloured clothing is good too because you can see the ticks. It’s also important to apply mosquito repellent to areas that aren’t covered,” said Lefebvre.
Sandrine Campeau wants to see the city take action.
“I’d like the city to proactively look at a program. Where the ticks are from, if there’s a presence and start an awareness campaign, and what to do in the event that this happens,” she told Global News.