Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health is cautioning against spraying lawns with pesticides to protect against ticks, saying there’s little evidence to suggest pesticides are effective in controlling tick populations. A female deer tick seen under a University of Rhode Island microscope in the entomoloy lab in South Kingstown, R.I., Monday March 18, 2002. THE CANADIAN PRESSAP-Victoria Arocho, File

Spraying pesticides on your lawn won’t prevent ticks: N.S. chief medical officer

HALIFAX — As the number of reported Lyme disease cases in Canada continues to rise, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health is cautioning against spraying lawns with pesticides to protect against disease-carrying ticks.

“There’s no evidence that spraying the environment is effective in controlling ticks,” Dr. Robert Strang said Thursday.

“You probably could, but you’d have to have massive amounts of pesticide, applied repeatedly over great big areas, and that’s not legal in Nova Scotia and would carry environmental risks.”

Strang said that in Nova Scotia, products like permethrin and deltamethin — both regulated by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency — can be applied to lawns. But he said there’s little point in spraying lawns because ticks tend to live in long grass, brush and shrubs.

In Halifax, these chemicals can’t be used on property owned by the municipality, according to a city bylaw.

Strang said the best way to prevent tick bites is by wearing long pants, enclosed shoes and long-sleeved shirts, applying tick repellents, and doing thorough tick checks when coming inside.

“We know that pesticides can carry potential human health and environmental risks,” he said. “We should only use pesticides if it’s necessary and appropriate.”

It’s a stance that pest control company Orkin Canada agrees with, according to spokesperson Sean Rollo.

Rollo said the company uses pesticide spraying as a last resort.

“A lot of the control comes with making sure that shrubs and bushes are trimmed back, that grass is cut where it should be, that if there is a forest area backing onto the property, that perhaps there’s some sort of barrier between it,” he said.

Forested or rural properties where deer are more prevalent may require the use of pesticides, but Rollo said his company only uses chemicals after a thorough site inspection, adding that only licensed professionals are allowed to use permethrin and deltamethin.

Rollo did, however, take issue with Strang’s assertion that there’s no evidence pesticides are effective for managing ticks, saying Health Canada wouldn’t have regulated the chemicals if they had no effect.

Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are a type of blood-sucking parasite well-known for transmitting Lyme disease, an infectious disease that manifests with flu-like symptoms, rashes, and in extreme cases, facial paralysis, heart disorders and arthritis.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, reported Lyme disease cases are on the rise.

In an emailed statement, agency spokeswoman Maryse Durette said that as of October, 1,479 cases were reported in Canada in 2017 — a 76 per cent increase from the 841 cases reported at the same time of year in 2016.

Though statistics by region were unavailable for 2017, Nova Scotia and Ontario tend to have the highest Lyme disease numbers: in 2016, 326 cases were reported in Nova Scotia and 371 were reported in Ontario.

Jim Wilson, president of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, said Lyme disease may either go underreported or misdiagnosed as another illness, and he believes the actual number to be much higher.

Wilson said he contracted Lyme disease nearly 30 years ago, and it took around four years to get a diagnosis.

Now that there’s more public awareness about Lyme disease, he said he hopes more people will be inclined to see a doctor if they’re exhibiting symptoms.

“I got my diagnosis, and after a lengthy period of treatment,” he said. “I went from losing my brain, and unable to talk without drooling, and almost unable to walk, to recovering.”

Just Posted

You can’t always know where life will lead, says formerly homeless single mom

Red Deer woman can’t get a job because she can’t afford child care

Red Deerians arrested after truck was stolen in Rimbey

Both will appear in Red Deer court on May 24

RCMP investigate incident in Innisfail

RCMP are still investigating a serious incident that happened at a downtown… Continue reading

Disappearance of woman, toddler treated as potential homicides: Calgary police

Calgary police say they are treating the disappearance of a woman and… Continue reading

Several Red Deer businesses’ phone/fax lines taken over by ‘spoofers’

Same ‘prank’ calls were made as happened with RedCliff RCMP

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Montreal Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps voice concerns about MLS travel woes

VANCOUVER — Concerns are being raised about how Major League Soccer handles… Continue reading

Canada looks to defend para-hockey title at world championship in Czech Republic

Canada forward Dominic Cozzolino keeps his 2018 Paralympic silver medal tucked away… Continue reading

John Singleton of ‘Boys N the Hood’ in coma after stroke

LOS ANGELES — “Boyz N the Hood” director John Singleton is in… Continue reading

400-year-old Bible stolen from US is found in Netherlands

PITTSBURGH — A 400-year-old Bible stolen from a Pittsburgh library has been… Continue reading

Opinion: Schools can’t be exempt from scrutiny

This weekend’s meeting of the Alberta School Councils’ Association promises to be… Continue reading

Local Sports: Clayton Pottinger reaching for new heights

There are times in anyone’s life when they make a decision that… Continue reading

Seniors: Smarter living for older adults

One of the major life transitions characteristic of aging is leaving one’s… Continue reading

Most Read