Ticks: A Small Threat with Big Health Implications
Thu, Apr-18-24

As spring arrives, ticks emerge from their winter dormancy, prompting vigilance against tick-borne diseases. These tiny arachnids transmit illnesses by attaching themselves to animals like deer, rodents, and birds, feeding on their blood. If the host animal is infected, the tick ingests disease-causing pathogens along with the blood. Subsequently, when the tick feeds on its next host, it can transfer these pathogens through its saliva. Notably, the risk of pathogen transmission increases the longer the tick remains attached to the skin.

While most tick species do not pose a direct threat to humans, the blacklegged tick (also known as the deer tick) and the western blacklegged tick are exceptions. These ticks are responsible for spreading Lyme disease, a prevalent tick-borne illness in Canada. Climate change has contributed to their expansion into new areas, as they remain active whenever temperatures exceed 4°C.

Apart from Lyme disease, ticks can also transmit other infections, including anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan virus disease, and tick-borne relapsing fever. Symptoms of these diseases may include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting. In the case of Lyme disease, a characteristic circular rash resembling a bull’s eye often appears at the site of the tick bite.

Tick bites often go unnoticed due to their painless nature. To minimize the risk of contracting tick-borne diseases, it’s essential to prevent bites, accurately identify ticks, and carefully remove them from the skin. Individuals working outdoors—especially in grassy, shrubby, or wooded areas—are at higher risk of tick exposure. 

Stay vigilant and take necessary precautions to protect your health!

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