Facts about Lyme disease and ticks By Dr. Wybranowski, DMV

May 24, 2019

Facts about Lyme disease and ticks By Dr. Wybranowski, DMV

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  • The Blacklegged deer tick is responsible for spreading Lyme disease along with several other diseases (Anaplasma, Erhlichia).
  • About 20% of ticks submitted for testing in our area carry Lyme disease. The same is true for all ticks from of Southeastern Canada. This number is expected to at least double within a few years
  • The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA. has recently admitted that it has made a mistake in estimating how many people will contract Lyme disease every year. Originally it was to be 30,000 cases per year, but now it has grown to 300,000 new cases every year!
  • The West Island of Montreal and surrounding areas are considered endemic regions for Lyme disease. That means that all life stages of the ticks are present and can develop in our environment.
  • Endemic areas increase in size by 35 to 50 km every year.
  • The Blacklegged deer tick nymph is the size of a sesame seed and the larva the size of a poppy seed. The adult female when engorged with a blood meal can be the size of a pea.

blacklegged tick

An adult female deer tick

An adult female deer tick

  • Ticks do not jump onto an animal. They sit on vegetation about 30 to 40 cm off the ground and wait for a warm blooded animal to brush up against them. This behavior is called “questing”. They latch on to the vegetation and spread their front legs, the legs contain hooks that lets them attach to a passing animal. Ticks can sense heat and carbon dioxide of their prey.
  • Ticks have a complicated life cycle requiring feeding on 3 different hosts to develop between one stage and the next. In our climate it takes 3 years to complete the life cycle.

tick life cycle

  • Dogs are much more likely to pick up a tick than their owner, but people are 10 times more sensitive to Lyme disease.
  • By checking your dog after being outside you may be able to remove ticks before they bite your dog, thereby preventing the possibility of them catching Lyme disease.

Ticks can now live in our area because of several factors:

  • After a disastrous period of clear cutting, reforestation starting in the 1890 has greatly increased the amount of deciduous forest in our area. Ticks need the thick leaf cover in forests to burrow under in the winter to survive the cold.
  • Our winters have become much milder since global warming. Do you ever remember seeing plus 9 degrees Celsius in January?
  • Our successful wildlife conservation has increased the deer population from 300,000 in 1890 to 38,000,000 in 2015. Ticks cannot survive without easy access to White-tailed deer.
  • Migratory birds bring between 50 to 175 million ticks into south eastern Canada every spring.

For more info on Lyme disease go to:

http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/

http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/diseases-conditions-maladies-affections/disease-maladie/lyme/index-eng.php