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Wood ticks creep into parts of Saskatchewan never seen before, says entomologist

05/05/2015 07:36 EDT | Updated 05/05/2016 05:59 EDT
REGINA - A bug expert says wood ticks are creeping into parts of Saskatchewan where they have never been seen before.

Phil Curry, an entomologist for the Ministry of Health, says the most common brown American dog tick is expanding its range in the province.

He says about 15 to 20 years ago it was only found in southeastern Saskatchewan, but now it's in through central Saskatchewan as far north as Melfort, Prince Albert and even North Battleford areas.

Curry notes the reasons for the move range from climate change to moist conditions and milder winters.

Last weekend Curry picked up dog ticks on his own farm north of Moose Jaw — the first time he's seen them there.

While dog ticks are more noticeable, Curry says the ticks that transmit Lyme disease are still considered to be very rare in Saskatchewan.

The black-legged deer tick is only about half the size of the brown dog tick. It is also found more often in wooded areas instead of tall grass where dog ticks are easy to pick up.

"The risk is very low. It's not zero though. We have found a few of these ticks in the province and a few of them have tested positive for Lyme disease. So it's a low risk but not a zero risk," he said.

Since 2010, Saskatchewan has only had two confirmed human cases of Lyme disease that originated within the province.

The symptoms of Lyme disease occur in three phases, with the first showing a rash, fatigue, muscle pain and swollen lymph nodes. It's advised to see a doctor if these symptoms appear after a tick bite.

Curry says to wear long pants and shirts, even tucking pant legs into socks if walking in areas with long grass or trees.

He says wearing light clothing will also help make it easier to spot ticks.

(CJME)

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