Manitoba Health advises that new and expanded Lyme disease risk areas have been identified in the province through the annual blacklegged tick surveillance program. The risk of Lyme disease transmission is greatest where blacklegged ticks are most commonly found.
The six Lyme disease risk areas are:
- The southeast corner of the province, where the border meets Ontario and Minnesota, expanding north into Moose Lake Provincial Park;
- The Pembina Valley region, which stretches from the international border to the Rural Municipality of South Norfolk in the north and Killarney in the west including the Pembina Valley and escarpment as well as Pembina Valley Provincial Park;
- The eastern Assiniboine region, which has expanded west from Beaudry Provincial Park along the Assiniboine River as far as Poplar Point;
- The St. Malo region, which includes areas near the communities of St. Malo, Roseau River and Kleefeld;
- The Vita/Arbakka region; and
- The Richer/Ste. Genevieve area, which is located east of Winnipeg and just outside the Agassiz and Sandilands provincial forests.
In Lyme disease risk areas and elsewhere, blacklegged ticks are most commonly found within and along the edge of forests and in areas with thick, woody shrubs and other vegetation.
Blacklegged ticks can also be found in other areas of Manitoba, but the risk of Lyme disease is relatively low outside of the risk areas.
Manitobans are encouraged to take precautions to minimize their risk of tick exposure by:
- Applying an appropriate tick repellent, following label directions, on exposed skin and clothing;
- Inspecting themselves, children and pets after spending time outdoors;
- Removing ticks as soon as possible from people and pets;
- Staying to the centre of walking trails;
- Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts; and
- Keeping grass and shrubs around homes cut short to create drier environments that are less suitable for blacklegged tick survival.
Since Lyme disease became nationally reportable in 2009, 59 confirmed or probable cases have been reported to Manitoba Health. Nine of these cases were reported in 2013.
Symptoms of Lyme disease can start about three days to one month after a tick bite, often with an expanding rash which then fades. Early symptoms can also include headache, stiff neck, muscle aches or fatigue, fever, chills and swollen lymph nodes.
Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics and treatment is most successful in the early stages of infection. People who think they may have Lyme disease should see their doctor.
For more information, they may also contact Health Links-Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257 (toll free).