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Warmer Weather Brings Spike in Tick Sightings

by Jocelyn Ottenbreit

Now that the weather has warmed up in Saskatchewan, there have been many sightings of ticks, as warmer weather is what these parasites prefer.

According to Dr. Emily Jenkins, a professor of veterinary microbiology with the University of Saskatchewan, the Dog Tick is the species that is found in Saskatchewan, which is most active in May and June. These ticks are usually a red-brown color found in wooded, grassy areas. Most ticks in Saskatchewan do not carry Lyme disease, but those that do carry the disease, such as the black legged tick, usually show signs at the end of summer.

There are two variants of the black legged tick; one in the east and the western black legged tick. Jenkins notes that these black legged ticks that have been brought up in the spring by migratory birds, spend the summer here growing up to be adults, and show up in the fall when they quest for their adult host. The adults are quite small (about the size of a sesame seed) and the immature stages are even smaller (the size of a freckle or a pin head).

A new online program called eTick was established with the province’s Ministry of Health who partnered with the University of Saskatchewan. This program helps identify ticks and get information back to people by uploading pictures to the eTick website or phone app. Members of the public can take a photo of the tick that has either bitten them or their pet and then they can submit these photos using the online eTick platform. Once submitted, you will be notified within 24 business hours if it is a homegrown tick, or a Lyme Disease tick.

Homegrown ticks can still get infected locally even if a tick is not a carrier of Lyme disease, and they can still pose a health risk. It is recommended that you check yourself and pets daily for ticks, and remove any immediately.

Veterinarians recommend getting a prescription or over the counter tick medication to prevent ticks attaching to pets, as well as changing walk times. Ticks seem to come up when the weather is cold or cool and then stay where they can get attached so walking when the sun is up helps prevent them from showing up.

When entering areas that could contain ticks, it is important to take the proper precautionary measures, such as wearing light colored clothing, long sleeved shirts, pants, tucking pants into socks, using an insect repellent that contains DEET, staying on paths and avoid overgrown brush.

If bitten by a tick, proper removal methods are to use fine-tipped tweezers. More tick removal instructions can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html.

PHOTO CAPTION: The black legged tick

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