New Brunswick has identified new areas of blacklegged tick population in the southern part of the province, as part of the government’s enhanced surveillance.
Risk areas have been expanded to include Albert and Westmorland counties. Areas already identified include Charlotte, Saint John and Kings counties.
Infected ticks can spread the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, an illness that can cause fatigue, aches, facial paralysis and neurological disorders.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the acting Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province, says increasing awareness among doctors and the public is vital.
“If you are in a higher risk area, or anywhere in the province, we want people to be aware that it should be on the list of things to consider whether you’re a member of the public and you’ve been out in the woods, or you’re a member of the medical community who sees patients in your office or in the emergency department with symptoms that could be related to Lyme disease,” she said.
“Then you increase your level of suspicion and that increases your chance of getting diagnosed and treated early.”
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In June, the federal and provincial governments partnered in a two-year enhanced surveillance and collection program to identify blacklegged tick populations, in a bid to battle Lyme disease.
Karen Ludwig, the MP for New Brunswick Southwest, says the program offers valuable data.
“It’s feeding the body of evidence to provide the best opportunities for diagnosis, treatment and certainly for follow-up,” Ludwig said.
“New Brunswick (being) one of the first ones to actually sign onto this program is important because it definitely raises awareness amongst most communities of the significance of the tick population.”
The province is advising people to take precautions if living or visiting risk areas, such as using an insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes.
They also remind residents that blacklegged ticks are most often found in forests, overgrown areas between woods and open spaces.
With files from Adrienne South
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