WEATHER ALERT

Lyme disease-carrying ticks return

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When Kate McMullin first found a tick on herself last summer she thought it was a chocolate chip.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/05/2018 (1711 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When Kate McMullin first found a tick on herself last summer she thought it was a chocolate chip.

“I went to brush it off and then my heart kind of stopped because it didn’t come off, and I realized it was a tick.

“I was terrified,” McMullin said, referring to it as a traumatic experience.

After chucking it in the sink, its “legs spread out” and she responded by flushing it down the toilet.

“I should have saved it to bring it to the doctor because it was definitely in [my skin],” she said.

Her story is similar to many others.

They’re tiny and intimidating, yet despite their size can also be dangerous.

Manitoba has plenty of ticks to go around.

A map of tick activity released by the provincial government reveals a scattering of hot spots throughout the southern half of the province. Westman’s most promiment area of tick activity, according to the map, is in its southeast quadrant.

The black legged ticks (also known as deer ticks) are the ones people need to be careful of.

They have eight legs and strongly resemble spiders.

Although they’re not the most common type of tick in the province, a high percentage of them carry lyme disease.

“If you were to take all the information from all of Manitoba and make an average, it’s about twenty per cent of the black legged ticks that would be infected,” said Kateryn Rochon, University of Manitoba tick expert.

“Ticks are out and you need to protect yourself.”

To avoid tick bites she recommends people wear their pants tucked into their socks and their shirt tucked into their pants when going outside.

“It’s not fashionable, but you have to dress like a dork to stay safe,” she said.

They’re so common that finding one tick for Larissa Gray, a resident of Shilo, is a regular occurance.

Submitted A sample of ticks collected from animals at Grand Valley Animal Clinic, pictured at top (Tim Smith/The Brandon Sun). The provincial government offered this map of black legged tick risk areas, clarifying that the ticks might also be found outside of these trouble spots.

She said that she has pulled as many as 54 off of herself at one time. They stuck to the Lululemon leggings she was wearing “like it was velcro.”

“I was counting and throwing them in the toilet,” she said. “By the time I went to bed there were still a few crawling on me.”

However, even if a black legged tick attaches itself, the liklihood of contracting lyme disease is not guaranteed.

Approximately twenty per cent of ticks carry it, and often, according to the government of Manitoba’s website, ticks don’t start feeding for the first 24 hours after attaching themselves to a host.

Regardless of this or how often Gray finds them, it’s still unpleasant.

Aftter finding one, she said, “I dont sleep all night.”

There are several months of sleepless nights on the horizon, with ticks known to remain active until late autumn.

A provincial government spokeswoman noted that tick season ends when the temperature is consistently below 4 C, or there is snow cover on the ground.

Last year, there were 29 confirmed cases of lyme disease in Manitoba, with 129 cases reported since 2009.

» mverge@brandonsun.com

» @Melverge5

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