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Tick season, warmer weather sparks fears about Lyme disease spread in Canada

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The surge in Canada's tick population is linked to recent changes in our climate, according to Mount Allison University biology professor Vett Lloyd.

“The ticks are quite happy with the mild winters that are happening in the Maritimes and across Canada,” Lloyd said.

Tick-borne illnesses are a major health concern as Statistics Canada reported more than 8,000 cases of Lyme disease in the country from 2021 to 2023.

Donna Lugar spent years battling Lyme disease symptoms before she was properly diagnosed.

“I was lying in bed in the dark because I had a light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, sense sensitivity, digestive issue, hearing issues and vision issues," said Lugar. "Everything was going on back then.“

Lugar, who now works as a Lyme disease ambassador and advocate, is urging all Canadians to check their bodies closely after being outdoors.

"We need to be taking preventative measures daily," she said, adding there are basic steps to stay tick-free.

"Bug spray is not a bad idea," Lloyd said. "When you come inside, check yourself right away and if you are in a high risk area, toss your clothes in a dryer."

Concerns about certain ticks spreading Lyme disease have increased in recent years.

“The blacklegged tick is very much a big problem, all around Canada," said Acadia University biochemistry professor Nicoletta Faraone. "And there is the lone star tick."

“On the whole, there are more ticks,” said Lloyd. “They are moving further northward and they are exploring new territories where people are not necessarily as familiar with them."

According to recent data from the Government of Canada, there are 40 different types of ticks in Canada. Not all of them will make people sick, but avoiding all ticks is the safest approach,

"Not every tick is infected but every type of tick can have something nasty," said Lloyd who sees this as a growing and major concern, especially as Canadians enjoy outdoor activities during the warm weather season.

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