The mild winter and early spring has given the tick population in Saskatchewan a head start this year.
“They’re really prevalent this year, they’re way more prevalent than they’ve been in the past even,” said veterinarian Dr. Rekha Orchard.
During the winter months ticks become inactive and a cold winter can drastically reduce the population, which was not the case this year.
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“We know that the number of ticks that are present this time of year are going to be related to how many were able to survive the winter and so in this case we do seem to have some reports that there might be more ticks present than normal,” said Dr. Michael Cshwandt, Saskatoon Health Region deputy medical officer.
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But what does that mean you for? For the most part a tick bite can be prevented by covering skin with long sleeves, wearing a hat and tucking pants into socks.
If you are bitten then the key is to remove the tick properly.
“What’s very important when removing the tick is to ensure all of the parts of the tick, including the mouth are fully removed because there is potential for infection to spread. We really encourage people to try to use some sort of antiseptic like rubbing alcohol on the area,” said Dr. Cshwandt.
There are three types of ticks in Saskatchewan: wood, dog and deer. However, it’s the least common deer tick that’s known to carry Lyme disease.
“We’ve had in the last decade or so around three cases of Lyme disease and only one of those as far as we know was acquired locally,” said Dr. Cshwandt.
Veterinarian Rekha Orchard sees animals coming to the clinic daily with ticks and she expects to see more this summer than ever before.
“This year they anticipate the tick season to be about six months long. Typically we get around three months with a bit of a resurgence in the fall. But, we’re definitely having a longer tick season,” said Dr. Orchard.
For animals owners, Dr. Orchard says the biggest concern is with dog ticks, which can live for up to two years in your home.
“One female tick, if it feeds on your animals and drops off, it can have 4,000 babies,” said Dr. Orchard.
Reason enough to make sure you’re checking yourself, your children and animals after being outside this summer.