Apopulation of blacklegged ticks may have become established around the Stanley Trail in the Morden area of south-central Manitoba. Blacklegged ticks can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Further sampling to confirm the presence of the ticks in this area will be conducted in the fall.
An established blacklegged tick population is present in the southeast corner of the province and investigations into other areas of southern Manitoba are occurring.
Blacklegged ticks were likely introduced to the Stanley Trail area by migratory birds which perch and rest along the trail’s forested area. This wooded area also provides suitable habitat for blacklegged ticks. The agricultural areas surrounding the trail area are unlikely to support many ticks.
To date, there have been two Lyme disease cases in humans in the area and reports of Lyme disease in dogs. A number of blacklegged ticks have been collected in the area as part of the provincial tick surveillance program. Some of the ticks have tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Symptoms of Lyme disease can start about three days to one month after a tick bite, often but not always, with an expanding rash which then fades. Early symptoms can also include headache, stiff neck, fever, muscle aches or fatigue, fever, chills and swollen lymph nodes. People who think they may have Lyme disease should see their doctor. Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics and treatment is most successful in the early stages of infection.
In 2009, Manitoba had one confirmed case of Lyme disease and four probable cases. For 2010, three cases are currently under investigation.
Manitoba Health reminds Manitobans to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of coming into contact with blacklegged ticks while enjoying the outdoors:
Limit contact with tall grass or other vegetation along wooded areas and stay to the centre of hiking trails or paths;
Wear light-coloured clothing to make it easier to see ticks that may be on skin or clothing;
Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt in tall-grass habitats or wooded areas where ticks are most commonly found;
Tuck a shirt into pants and pants into socks to prevent ticks from attaching to the skin;
Apply an appropriate repellent on clothing and exposed skin after reading and following instructions for use;
Inspect oneself, children and pets for ticks and remove them as soon as possible; and
Keep grass well mowed to help reduce the amount of habitat suitable for ticks.