Lyme disease risk is expanding in the province — and now includes Killarney.
Manitoba Health said Wednesday that new areas of risk for the tick-borne disease have been identified, and that other areas of risk have been expanded.
In general, the risk of contracting Lyme disease is greatest where blacklegged ticks are most commonly found. The newly assessed risk areas where people should be on the lookout for Lyme disease:
- the southeast corner of the province, where the border meets Ontario and Minnesota, expanding north into Moose Lake Provincial Park
- the Pembina Valley region, which stretches from the international border to the Rural Municipality of South Norfolk in the north and Killarney in the west including the Pembina Valley and escarpment as well as Pembina Valley Provincial Park
- the eastern Assiniboine region, which has expanded west from Beaudry Provincial Park along the Assiniboine River as far as Poplar Point
- the St. Malo region, which includes areas near the communities of St. Malo, Roseau River and Kleefeld
- the Vita/Arbakka region
- the Richer/Ste. Genevieve area, which is located east of Winnipeg and just outside the Agassiz and Sandilands provincial forests
In Lyme disease risk areas and elsewhere, blacklegged ticks are most commonly found within and along the edge of forests and in areas with thick, woody shrubs and other vegetation.
Blacklegged ticks can also be found in other areas of Manitoba, but the risk of Lyme disease is relatively low outside of the risk areas.
People can minimize their risk of tick exposure by inspecting themselves and pets for the insects after being out, and removing them as soon as possible. It's also best to stick to the centre of walking trails, to keep grass and shurbs cut short, and to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. There are also tick repellents.
Since Lyme disease became nationally reportable in 2009, there have been 59 confirmed or probable cases reported to Manitoba Health, including nine this year.
Symptoms of Lyme disease can start anywhere from three days to a month after a tick bite, often with an expanding rash which then fades. Early symptoms can also include headache, stiff neck, muscle aches or fatigue, fever, chills and swollen lymph nodes.
Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics and treatment is most successful in the early stages of infection. People who think they may have Lyme disease should see their doctor but they can also call Health Links, at 1-888-315-9257 for more information.