Local entomologist Taz Stuart says that tick season is upon us, and not only are the tiny bloodsuckers out and about, but their numbers have increased over the past couple of decades.
“Ticks have been spreading across southern Manitoba since 2000,” said Stuart, a former City of Winnipeg entomologist currently with Poulin’s Pest Control.
“They are literally almost everywhere in southern Manitoba. Before 2000, you only had ticks in the southeastern part of Manitoba, but birds carried them, people carried them, dogs carried them…
“For black-legged ticks, they’re active from snowmelt to snowfall.”
Stuart said using preventative measures like anti-tick sprays can be an effective method of keeping the pests away – as is the ‘geek look’ of tucking your socks into your pants – but if you are bitten by a tick, there’s a danger of illnesses like Lyme disease, so you should be mindful of symptoms and see a doctor as soon as you can.
“With Lyme disease, specifically with black-legged ticks, you need to have that tick attached to you for at least 24 hours for the disease to get transferred into you,” he said.
In 2009 the province had just one confirmed case of Lyme disease, that’s risen to 28 in 2018.
Robbin Lindsay, Research Scientist at the National Microbiology Lab, says if you do get bit, check to see if there are white markings on the back of the tick. The ones that do have the marks do not carry Lyme disease.
And if you are bitten by a deer tick, it does take more than a day for the disease to transmit to you.
“You can actually be bitten by an infected tick but if you remove it promptly enough you may not become infected yourself so that’s why tick checks work because there’s delayed transmitting from when the tick starts to feed and when they transmit,” he said.
Lindsay says you can watch for a ring-like rash but it doesn’t always develop.
“With that rash you’ll get flu-like symptoms — fever, headache, muscle and joint pain. If you get that combination of events even without that rash, after you’ve had known tick exposure, you should be consulting with a healthcare provider.”
For those looking for non-chemical or fashion-forward methods to prevent and treat tick bites, American physician and media personality Dr. Cass Ingram told 680 CJOB that, in his experience, natural methods like oregano oils are the best remedies for tick problems.
“It could be a very bad year,” said Ingram, best-known for his books about the disease-fighting properties of wild medicinal spice extracts.
“With the warming in the States, we’re seeing a migration of the ungodly deer tick coming into Manitoba more and more.”
Ingram said he carries oregano oil whenever he’s in the bush, as well as a geranium/cumin/rosemary spray that ticks hate.
“If I get a tick on, I saturate some cotton, that’s my method,” he said. “I hold it on the tick until I kill it and then pull it out with flat-nosed tweezers.
“The wood ticks aren’t exactly nice guys, either. I got paralyzed, half of my body, from a wood tick that bit me behind my ear about 10 years ago.”
Despite their different styles of prevention, there is at least one method on which all tick experts agree: cover up.
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