Central Albertans are encouraged to check themselves and their pets for ticks after being outdoors. (Black Press News Service photo).

Ticks appear to be on the rise in central Alberta, say experts

Up to 20 per cent of deer ticks are carriers of Lyme disease

Central Alberta is entering tick season amid reports that the Lyme Disease-carrying parasites are flourishing.

A University of Alberta biologist found that 10 to 20 per cent of black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks) carry the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease.

While these blood-sucking arachnids were once thought rare in the province, found only in mountainous or remote areas, entomologist Janice Sperling said more ticks are turning up in cities, probably carried on the backs of deer or birds.

“We need to recognize that we have a problem that is getting bigger, not smaller,” said Sperling on the science website www.folio.ca.

This warning lines up with the findings of the Central Alberta Lyme Society, which is hearing of more local tick encounters, both human and animal.

Echo Armstrong, the group’s founder who’s still coping with effects of the Lyme disease she contracted 13 years ago, has heard local veterinarians are finding ticks on pets this spring even though Central Alberta had an extended cold snap last winter.

Perhaps the parasites benefitted from the body warmth of their hosts, suggested Armstrong who believes they survived the cold better than pine beetles.

As an outdoor enthusiast and hunter, she spends a lot of time in the bush. But she said even people who stay in the city are reporting tick sightings on trails, in yards — or in one case, even a fourth floor balcony.

According to the provincial government’s tick surveillance program, which invites Albertans to bringing in ticks they have found to health centres, counts of the parasites have tripled since the program was started in 2013.

Alberta Health’s deputy medical officer of health Kristin Klein isn’t sure if this is because bug populations are growing or because more people are becoming familiar with the program and are sending more tick samples in.

Various kinds of the parasites can carry different bacteria and diseases, beyond Lyme, said Klein. And these can effect people in different ways — from having a negligible reaction to a life threatening illness.

“It’s an evolving field,” added Klein, who urges Albertans to get more informed about the program and how to remove ticks by visiting www.alberta.ca/lyme-disease-tick-surveillance.aspx.

Armstrong isn’t sure why Alberta’s ticks populations are thriving. It could be the warming climate, she said, “I don’t know. But nature doesn’t stay put.

“Nature changes all the time” — and central Albertans should be using bug repellent when outdoors, and check themselves and their pets over when back home, she added.

Central Alberta Lyme Society offers a support group on the last Thursday of the month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Red Deer museum.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Huge crowds gathering in downtown Toronto for Raptors parade, rally

TORONTO — Jubilant Raptors fans decked out in the team’s gear are… Continue reading

Boeing says ‘sorry’ for Max crashes, seeks renewed trust

LE BOURGET, France — Boeing executives apologized Monday to airlines and families… Continue reading

Protesters demand embattled Hong Kong leader resign

HONG KONG — Demonstrators in Hong Kong gathered Monday outside the office… Continue reading

After harsh Twitter exchanges, Senate will look at new social media policy

OTTAWA — An independent senator is on a mission to get members… Continue reading

Alberta energy war room must avoid online morass, preaching to choir: experts

CALGARY — Tzeporah Berman only learned of her cameo appearance at an… Continue reading

Pro-pipelines rally draws crowd to City Hall

Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Canada missing out on billions in revenue

Franchise fatigue continues with ‘Men in Black’ and ‘Shaft’

LOS ANGELES — Brand familiarity isn’t everything when it comes to attracting… Continue reading

‘Hunger Games’ prequel novel coming in 2020

NEW YORK — A decade after seemingly wrapping up “The Hunger Games,”… Continue reading

Federal cabinet decision on fate of Trans Mountain pipeline due Tuesday

OTTAWA — The Liberal government’s $4.5 billion gamble to buy the Trans… Continue reading

Skier, 22 dies after fall on Mount Haig near Castle Mountain Ski Resort

PINCHER CREEK, Alta. — RCMP from the Pincher Creek, Alta., detachment are… Continue reading

4 years in, Trump fondly recalls Trump Tower campaign launch

NEW YORK — It was the escalator ride that would change history.… Continue reading

Massive protests draw apology from Hong Kong leadership

Hong Kong citizens marched for hours Sunday in a massive protest that… Continue reading

Butterfly garden keeper manages to film large tarantula shedding exoskeleton

VICTORIA — A 20-centimetre tarantula capable of killing a bird has been… Continue reading

Telegraph-Journal wins 2018 Michener Award recognizing public-service journalism

OTTAWA — The Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick has been named the winner… Continue reading

Most Read