As the weather warms up, the Ministry of Health reminds Saskatchewan residents to take precautions to reduce the risk of coming into contact with ticks while enjoying the outdoors.
There have been occasional sporadic cases of Lyme disease reported in Saskatchewan, including one case likely acquired in Saskatchewan in 2011. Lyme disease is potentially carried by the blacklegged or "deer" tick which currently makes up only .03 per cent of the tick population in the province. Most Lyme disease cases are related to travel to another province or country where Lyme disease is more common.
Ticks are found in tall grass, brush or wooded areas throughout southern Saskatchewan. The great majority of ticks are the American dog tick or "wood tick".
"Throughout Saskatchewan there is a slight chance of being exposed to Lyme disease primarily through contact with blacklegged ticks that are transported by birds," Entomologist and Provincial West Nile Co-ordinator Phil Curry said. "The province maintains a surveillance system to monitor all the different types of ticks and tick-associated diseases in the province."
Tick bites occur most often during early spring to September.
"When in areas that have ticks, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, enclosed shoes or boots," Saskatchewan Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said. "It is also recommended to use insect repellent containing DEET and stay on paths to avoid contact with overgrown brush when hiking.
"Also, when returning from outdoors people are advised to do a daily "tick check" and regularly check children and pets after they have been outside in risk areas. If any ticks are found, people should remove them carefully."
The first symptom of Lyme disease is usually a circular or "bulls-eye" rash. People are encouraged to consult a physician if they have a history of a tick bite and have symptoms of Lyme disease. Sometimes a physician may recommend treatment even before the test results are available because it can take up to one month after exposure for a person to test positive.
For more information on the risk of Lyme disease in Saskatchewan, symptoms, precautions and tick removal, and information regarding testing for physicians, visit the Ministry of Health website at health.gov.sk.ca/lyme-disease.