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Risk of infected ticks low, but not zero: SHA

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says that despite a low risk of infectious ticks in the Lloydminster area, people should still keep an eye out.

They say most ticks in our area are American Dog Ticks, which bite but do not carry infectious diseases. Some ticks however, such as black-legged ticks can bring in diseases like Lyme disease. These ticks come in on migrating birds and while they are not established in Saskatchewan, they do still pose a slight risk.

Medical Health Officer for the Prairie North Region Doctor Mandiangu Nsungu says people going outdoors should always check themselves, kids and pets for ticks, and if they find one, they should be very careful while removing it and wash hands and the bitten area afterwords.

“There is a way to remove the tick safely, that must be done using pair of tweezers. You have to grab the tick parallel to the skin, and then lift it slowly,but progressively, in such a way without breaking the mouthpieces off of the tick.”

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Nsungu says from there, people should bring their tick to a public health office, where they will send it to a lab and make sure it’s not one of the ticks that could carry Lyme disease. If it is the provincial lab will see if that specific tick is carrying any diseases.

Someone bitten by a tick should watch for for symptoms of borrelia, a microbe which Nsungu says can cause Lyme disease. He adds that if treated early, the success rate is very high.

“If, and I’m saying only if, that tick is infected with that microbe, then there are a certain number of signs that can be noticed. First of all we know that 70 to 80 per cent of people will have a rash, and a very specific rash. The next step will be very general symptoms and signs like fever, headache, muscle pains. Just like many other diseases.”

Ticks tend to stay in bushy and wooden areas, and Nsungu says people can further protect themselves by wearing long clothing and using a bug spray with deet.

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