“I encourage New Brunswickers to get outside, be active and play this summer while ensuring they take the appropriate precautions to avoid being bitten by blacklegged ticks,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, acting chief medical officer of health. “If you develop a bull’s eye target rash or have flu-like symptoms after being bitten by a tick please see your health-care provider as Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics when diagnosed at the early stages.”
The disease is caused by bacteria that are spread by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. It is an emerging illness in New Brunswick and in other parts of Canada. Public health officials continually monitor human cases of the disease. Most ticks in New Brunswick do not carry the disease; however, infected blacklegged ticks have been found throughout the province. In general, infected ticks need to be embedded in the skin for about 36 hours before they transmit the disease to the person.
The Department of Health continues to collaborate with the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the National Microbiology Laboratory on tick surveillance. The department is also collaborating with the New Brunswick Medical Society to better understand physicians’ awareness and knowledge of the disease, associated risks and clinical practice guidelines.
The department is also working with the federal government on the new federal framework on Lyme disease conference being held May 15-17. The aim of the conference is to develop a framework that will help prevent and reduce health risks related to the disease for Canadians.
The risk for humans contracting Lyme disease in New Brunswick is still considered low, however individuals should take the following precautions to minimize their risk of exposure. When engaging in outdoor activities in areas where ticks live, such as wooded and bushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter:
- Walk in the middle of trails.
- Wear appropriate clothing to limit the access of ticks to your skin. This includes enclosed shoes, long-sleeved shirts and long-legged pants tucked into socks or boots. Wearing light coloured clothing may make it easier for the wearer to spot ticks.
- Remove leaves and clear brush and tall grass around your house.
- Use insect repellent. Always read and follow label directions.
- Perform a full body check for ticks on you, your children and pets after returning from an area where ticks are likely to live.
More information about Lyme disease, including instructions on safely removing ticks, is available on the Department of Health website.