Learning more about blacklegged ticks

Laurel Beechey, The World is a Stage

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It’s a beautiful fall day, specially made for you to go out and commune with nature. Perhaps you might visit a conservation area, park or even stroll about your backyard.

The leaves are starting to display their glorious colours, some are even crunching under your steps. You breathe deeply because there is something about the fall air that is special, and for a brief time all seems right in the world.

You never noticed that during your walk you picked up a hitchhiker.

It is a blacklegged or deer tick, the one that can carry the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which causes Lyme disease. This isn’t breaking news, as over the last few years people have been told to check for ticks when they have been in the bush, but we need check more often.

Not every blacklegged tick will carry the bacteria, but you do not ever want to take the chance. There is not enough room in this article to teach you about the tick and disease, so please take the time to do your own research on where in your area they maybe colonizing and how to dress when there is a chance of getting ticks, and what do if you discover one.

To get the Ixodes scapularis or blacklegged tick on you, you do have to brush up against something that had a tick on it. It could be sitting on some grass, in a pile of old leaves or a leaf waiting for something with blood for dinner to go by.

They actually know when we are going to pass by the heat, pheromones and CO2 that we exude by waving their front legs around, questing, and position themselves strategically to get aboard.

Chances are if it does hitch a ride and partake of some blood, you most likely will feel nothing; not like a mosquito sting or tiny black fly bite.

It is about size of a poppy seed and it will dine on you for a couple of days. You might not notice it until it became engorged. You want to find it as fast as possible, within 24 hours, for if that tick is already infected with the Lyme’s bacteria it takes time for the bacteria to get into your blood stream.

Canada discovered its first colony of blacklegged ticks in Long Point in the early 1970s, but since then this tiny species has seen more of Canada than I have, flying speedily and great distances on migratory birds.

In 2017 there were 2,025 reported cases to Public Health Canada and their prediction for new cases every year in the 2020s is 10,000. Now that is a major jump in three years.

Be sure to learn more and keep you family and friends safe.

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