What You Need to Know About Ticks

Every year, ticks are becoming more common. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) recently had a webinar discussing ticks and Lyme disease in Eastern Canada. Here are some updates that we found interesting!

  • 54.6% of ticks found on humans and animals in the Eastern Provinces were black legged ticks (also known as deer tick & Ixodes scapularis)
  • In 2015, of the 644 ticks that were analysed, only 10% were positive for Lyme disease
  • The thought has been that spring and fall were the time of the year you had to worry about ticks being out and about. According to Dr. Susan Little “there is not a risk 365 days of the year, but there is risk in all 12 months.”
    • Any time the temperature outdoors is greater than than 4°C , you can see ticks out questing, which means there is risk 12 months of the year
  •  Ticks in Eastern Canada
    • Not uncommon to take 2 to 3 years to complete the life cycle of a tick
    • Each life cycle stage must feed on a separate hosts
    • Adult ticks feed for 4-13 days then fall off
    • Once females have engorged (after the 4-13 days), they drop off and lay an egg mass which contains 2000-8000 eggs, then the female dies
    • 99% of ticks are on their native host species (deer, birds) and not on dogs or humans
    • Ixodes scapularis ticks are spread from the US by migratory birds
    • Ticks can crawl up to 20 meters
    • Ticks find hosts by detecting host odours, CO2 and visual cues
    • Ticks do not fly or leap, they grab onto something as it goes by
    • They are rarely found more than 30-40cm above ground
    • Ticks will move 35-55 km/year

What to do When You Find a Tick

  • DO NOT use a match, alcohol, pin or squeeze the tickTick Twister
  • You want to make sure the head of the tick is removed
  • There are tick removal devices (like the Tick Twister) available. I find this is the simplest way. You slip the “hook like” tip as close to the skin and between the tick, then twist and lift. You want to make sure you have the head
    • The head of the tick is where the Lyme disease is transmitted from
  • You can also use tweezers or thumb forceps. Clutch the tick as close to the skin as you can, then gently lift. Once again, make sure the head is attached.

You Now Have the Tick…What Now?

  • Now that the tick is removed, you have a couple of options:
    1. You can dispose of it in the garbage, flush it down the toilette, etc
    2. Or, you can bring in into your veterinary clinic to have it sent away for analysis to find out what species it is and if it is a deer tick, it will be sent to Winnipeg to be analyzed to see if it is a carrier for Lyme disease

Lyme Disease

  • Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi which is transmitted through the mouth of the tick
  • The ticks needs to be attached to a host for 24-48 hours in order to transmit the bacteria
  • Humans and pets can get Lyme disease, however it is much worse in humans
  • Not all ticks carry Lyme disease
  • Symptoms include:
    • Fever
    • Lethargy
    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Swollen joints
    • Limping
    • Inappetence

How to Prevent Lyme Disease

  • Avoid tall grass/twig areas, or anywhere that wildlife hang outLint Roll the Ticks Away
  • If you cannot avoid these areas, check your pet and yourself when you come in to remove the tick right away
    • You can try using a lint roller and go over your pet, this may be more helpful with the nymph stage
  • There are different products that will help with tick prevention
  • There is also a Lyme disease vaccine

As I said, ticks are becoming more common in NB. If you have more questions or need help deciding which preventative is best for you, please talk to one of our care team members or veterinarians (389-2121).

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