News Releases

Media Bulletin - Manitoba

May 4, 2020

PROVINCE ENCOURAGES MANITOBANS TO TAKE PRECAUTIONS TO MINIMIZE RISK OF TICK EXPOSURE



May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and as the weather warms up, Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living reminds Manitobans that tick-borne diseases are preventable. People can protect themselves by performing regular tick checks after spending time outdoors, knowing where blacklegged ticks may be found, minimizing their risk of exposure and recognizing the signs and symptoms of tick-borne diseases. These precautions will help protect against anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Lyme disease.

Manitobans are reminded that when outside, it is still important to practice social distancing according to current COVID-19 public health guidelines. For more information, visit www.manitoba.ca/covid19.

Blacklegged ticks, which can carry anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Lyme disease, are most commonly found within and along the edge of forests and in areas with thick, woody shrubs and other vegetation. These ticks are typically found from early spring when snow melts through late fall. 

The province continues to monitor and assess the continued expansion of blacklegged tick populations. Members of the public can assist with surveillance by submitting images of collected ticks to the ticks@gov.mb.ca email. Maps of areas with known blacklegged tick populations, where the risk of tick-borne disease transmission is greatest, can be found at: www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/cdc/tickborne/surveillance.html.

The burden of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases in Manitoba continues to increase, and the 2019 season was the most active to date with 64 confirmed and probable Lyme disease cases reported. Since 2015, nearly 90 per cent of anaplasmosis and Lyme disease cases reported in Manitoba had likely local exposure. Most anaplasmosis and Lyme disease cases were exposed between May and July, and less than 40 per cent recalled a tick bite. This low recall likely reflects exposure to smaller blacklegged tick nymphs, whose activity also peaks between May and July.

Limiting exposure to potentially infected blacklegged ticks, particularly the smaller nymphs who are active during the late spring and summer months, is the key to tick-borne disease prevention. 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.

To learn more about blacklegged ticks, tick-disease, symptoms and prevention visit:
www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/cdc/tickborne/index.html.

People who think they may have anaplasmosis, babesiosis or Lyme disease should contact a doctor. For more information, they may also contact Health Links–Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or (toll-free) 1 888 315-9257.

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