Tick talk is at the top of our minds this time of year. Not the ever-popular app to learn the latest dance moves or life hacks, but discussions about those gross creepy crawlies that pose a significant health concern for our furry friends and family members. Northern Nova Scotia, while not traditionally thought of as a hot bed for ticks, is now an emerging area of concern. Be it from changing climate or natural migration of birds and animals, most of us have been exposed to or know people and pets that have been exposed to ticks.
Many people talk about tick season, and for a long time we used to think this was a May to November concern, but we know more about the habits of these creatures and the risks they present to us. We know these creatures are indeed active in winter months, can crawl through the snow to quest or wait for a blood meal and actively feed any time the temperature is greater then 4 degrees Celsius. In Nova Scotia there has not been a single month that did not have at least one day over this temperature since 2010. I have seen active ticks all year long, so this really is a year-round concern in this area.
I plan on doing some more articles where we can go into more detail about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, so keep an eye out. Talking to our friends, family, and neighbours, many of them have experienced or know someone who has experienced either a family member or a pet that has been diagnosed with Lyme disease. Lyme disease presents in dogs as a spectrum ranging from absolutely no outward signs to subtle signs like lameness to severe disease and organ failure. Returning home, I have been in contact with my previous professor at Mount Allison, Dr. Vett Lloyd. Dr. Lloyd, a long-time genetics professor, has had her own firsthand experience with Lyme and her pets. As a result, she has been doing some important research regarding prevalence and risk in this area to raise awareness of this serious condition for both people and pets.
She has authored multiple papers regarding prevalence and risks of Lyme disease in Southern New Brunswick. She has a research facility devoted to Lyme disease where people can submit ticks to test for the organism that is responsible for Lyme disease. Her website also has links to her research and links on how to minimize your risk of exposure, and tick proofing your yard. This can be found at lloydticklab.ca. The lab is also currently seeking live deer ticks for a current research project. Stay tuned for Part 2 in a follow up article.
Cumberland County Animal Hospital