Lyme Disease Awareness Month

May Is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Lyme Disease Awareness Month is an observance month in May that raises funds for research of Lyme, educational opportunities and organized events. Activists proclaim May to be Lyme Month since May is the heart of tick season. With an estimated 40 species of deer ticks in Canada, it is important that gardeners and farmers in Canada get the facts about ticks and tick disease prevention

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease is a bacterial disease that is caused by a latched-on tick. Ticks survive by feeding on warm-blooded mammals including wildlife, humans and pets. 

While white-tailed deer are the most common carriers of ticks in North America, the white-footed mouse is the one to blame for spreading the disease to deer, rodents and birds. 

Where are ticks found?

Ticks are found in almost all Canadian Providences; but are most commonly located in the following regions:

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

Ticks are largely found in wooded or grass areas beginning in March when the temperatures begin to rise above freezing. Ticks are a year-round problem for outdoor enthusiasts and do not die, but rather go dormant in the off-season winter months. 

Because spring and summer are prime seasons for tick movement, outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to wear [bright] long-sleeve clothing while hiking, spray tick repellents along their ankles and perform thorough tick-checks after long periods of outdoor activity.

    The Tick Bite

    Ticks are tiny, smaller than a finger nail or a dime; and they can be undetected for several hours or days if tick-checks are not performed immediately after time spent outside. Most Lyme Disease victims do not remember being bit by a tick or even seeing one near them. 

    The warm-blooded host will have less than 48 hours to remove the tick before possible transmission of a tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease.

    How To Remove a Tick

    Humans, pets and even livestock are subject to tick-borne diseases. If bitten by a tick, here is how to take action - safely:

    1) Buy a Tick Removal Tool

    Household tweezers may not be strong enough to successfully remove the tick. We suggest purchasing any of the tick remover tools and tweezers from DeerbustersCanada for easy handling.

    2) Disinfect the tick-biting area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

    3) Pull the tick straight up. Be sure that the head and body both comes out completely. (Remember: Tick-borne disease transmission is not possible without the tick's head as this is what is burrowed inside the skin.) Do not rush the process so the tick's body does not break apart. If it does break for any reason, remove the broken parts from the infected area - do not leave the remaining body parts attached to your skin. 

    4) Disinfect the tick-biting area with rubbing alcohol one final time.

    5) Place the tick in a sealed container. Store in refrigerator if it is alive, and the freezer if it is dead.

    6) Take the tick to a doctor's office quickly for testing to identify the type of tick; and consider testing for Lyme Disease and other diseases.

    Symptoms of Lyme Disease In People

    Most individuals will experience a fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, and swollen glands – often confused with signs of the flu. Lyme Disease can often be misdiagnosed for this reason.

    The most common sign of Lyme is a ring around the infected skin, also known as the "Bulls Eye" marking; however, not all Lyme victims recalled having this mark on the skin.

    Note: There are treatments for Lyme Disease; however, there is not a cure at this time. 

    Pet Tick Illnesses

    American dog ticks are common in Saskatchewan and can transmit many diseases including Spotted fever. If your active outdoor dog is now lethargic or not eating normally, then they may have experienced a bite from a tick. Symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs are:

    • Regurgitation
    • Unsteadiness
    • High blood pressure
    • Fast heart rate and rhythm (tachyarrhythmias)
    • Weakness, especially in the hind limbs
    • Partial loss of muscle movements (paresis)
    • Complete loss of muscle movement (paralysis), commonly seen in advanced disease state
    • Poor reflexes to complete loss of reflex
    • Low muscle tone (hypotonia)
    • Difficulty in eating
    • Disorder of voice (dysphonia)
    • Asphyxia due to respiratory muscle paralysis in severely affected animals
    • Excessive drooling (sialosis)
    • Megaesophagus (enlarged esophagus)
    • Excessive dilatation of pupil in the eye (mydriasis)

    Clinical illness in dogs lasts from 2-5 months; and can be treated with antibiotics like Doxycycline or Amoxicillin, if caught in the early stages. 

    Cats with Lyme Disease is less common than in dogs; however, felines with these symptoms should be tested for Lyme Disease: 

    • Lack of appetite
    • stiff walk and arched back
    • Sensitivity to touch
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Weak bones/joints
    • Arthritis

    As with humans, there is no Lyme Disease cure for pets. 

    Note For Gardeners

    Because deer are the favored hosts of ticks in North America, suggests that homeowners install a deer fence around their yard to keep deer away from yards. Not only will deer fencing protect crops from deer damage, but it is proven to reduce the risk of Lyme Disease by 97 percent. 

    Get Involved This #LymeDiseaseAwareness Month

    • Join a workshop or presentation to learn about Lyme Disease prevention strategies.
    • Share stories about Lyme Disease testing and health after the tick bite.
    • Join the conversation on Twitter; and follow DeerbustersCanada: @DeerbustersCAN. Use hashtags #Lyme, #LymeDisease ##LymeAwarenessMonth.