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Facts About Deer Ticks and Lyme Disease

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What We Know About Deer Ticks

Deer ticks pass through four life cycles: egg, larva, nymph and adulthood over a one to two-year period. They do not jump or fly; but they do crawl.

White-tailed deer are the favorite hosts of deer ticks. In the warm summer months, when deer become extremely active, deer ticks thrive. As deer enter backyards in search of food, deer ticks and Lyme disease follow – and they do not go dormant – even in the wintertime. They will remain active in search of a warm-blooded host as long as temperatures are above freezing.

The Public Health Agency of Canada confirms that the number of infected black-legged deer ticks in Canada are increasing and can potentially trigger Lyme Disease in less than 24 hours. With an estimated 40 species of deer ticks in Canada, it is important that home gardeners and farmers alike get the facts about deer ticks. Here's what you need to know:

1) There is a higher risk of Lyme Disease in Eastern Canada and Manitoba as cases of Lyme infection are most reported in this region. Some of these ticks come from migratory birds or deer that crossed over from the United States.

2) The Black-legged tick is the second most common Borrelia-carrying tick in Canada.

3) American dog ticks are common in Saskatchewan and can transmit many diseases including Spotted fever. (They usually don't carry Lyme Disease.) The Brown Dock Tick also carries Spotted fever, although not necessarily in humans.

The number of reported Lyme Disease cases in Canada is on the rise; beginning at 144 cases in 2009 and jumping to 917 cases in 2015.

Let's look at the top areas across Canada where black-legged ticks are most active:
1) Southern British Columbia
2) Southeastern and South-central Manitoba
3) Southern Quebec
4) Southern, Eastern and Western Ontario
5) Parts of Nova Scotia
6) Southern New Brunswick and Grand Manan Island

To better survey Canada cases of Lyme Disease, visit the Government of Canada website to read about these Canadian Areas in further detail.

It's important to note that not all deer ticks are infected with pathogens like Lyme Disease; but if they attach to a human, and stay for longer periods of time, the effects can be harmful.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease, often referred to as Lyme, is caused by the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi which is transmitted to humans and animals through tick bites.

Where do ticks find warm-blooded hosts?

Most often, individuals get bit while working outside in the garden, hiking, or walking their dog.

“Although many tick species can transmit Lyme disease, deer ticks are primary carriers in the United States,” says Mark Dayhoff, wildlife control expert and general manager of DeerbustersCanada.ca

The tick species usually hang out in grassy or woodland areas. If you are an outdoors enthusiast, it is strongly suggested that you wear insect repellents and/or long-sleeve clothing. Be sure to do a thorough body tick-check after outdoor events on both pets and yourself.

If you get bit by a deer tick, you may not see sudden effects. In most cases, the area will become swollen or red with a "bull's eye" on the infected area.

But, you can prevent this from happening.

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How to remove a tick when bitten by a tick.

 

Lyme Disease Symptoms - What to Expect:

In 60-80 percent of all cases, a rash resembling a “bull’s eye” appears around the skin of the bite. This often occurs within 30 days. (Sometimes, multiple rashes can occur around the infected bite.) Most individuals will experience a fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, and swollen glands – often confused with signs of the flu. As the disease progresses, severe fatigue and numbness of the arms and legs occurs – even facial paralysis. Symptoms may not be immediately after a tick bite.

Treatment of Lyme:

Early treatments require antibiotics and usually result in full cures. However, the chances for a full recovery decrease if treatment is delayed.

poly-fence-resize.pngWhat can we do at home to stop the spread of deer ticks?

According to Dayhoff, “deer fencing is the most effective means for excluding deer.” Dayhoff adds that “animal repellents, which deter deer using odors and chemicals, and animal scaring devices, which deter deer using sounds, can be satisfactory alternatives when deer fencing is not feasible."

Per the National Center for Biological Information, a division of the National Institute of Health, the use of deer fencing has been proven to reduce the risk of Lyme disease by 83-97% (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). Without deer entering the area surrounding your home, new deer ticks become limited and eventually, existing deer ticks become scarce.

In addition, the CDC encourages homeowners to create a tick-safe zoning area around the home. They recommend the following:

  •     Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
  •     Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play   equipment. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  •     Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
  •     Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents that ticks feed on).
  •     Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees and place them in a sunny location, if possible.
  •     Apply deer repellents and pesticides.

According to Dayhoff, “non-toxic, organic deer repellents can be an excellent alternative to harsh chemical repellents. In addition to the environmental benefits, organic repellents can be safer for children and pets.”

By protecting your living area from deer, you may reduce your risk of Lyme disease by 83-97% just by installing deer fencing in lawns and gardens! See DeerbustersCanada.ca deer control solutions today.