Warning – Spring is Coming But It’s Bringing Lyme Disease With It

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2007 James Gathany This 2007 photograph depicts the pathognomonic erythematous rash in the pattern of a “bull’s-eye”, which manifested at the site of a tick bite on this Maryland woman’s posterior right upper arm, who’d subsequently contracted Lyme disease.

Lyme disease patients who are diagnosed early, and receive proper antibiotic treatment, usually recover rapidly and completely. A key component of early diagnosis is recognition of the characteristic Lyme disease rash called erythema migrans. This rash often manifests itself in a “bull's-eye” appearance, and is observed in about 80% of Lyme disease patients. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, and is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and as illustrated here, the characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Note that there are a number of PHIL images related to this disease and its vectors.

Spring is a great time in Montreal, but its bringing trouble, here and beyond, and Lyme Disease in Quebec is growing rapidly.

Lyme Disease in Quebec
@ Lockport Journal

Spring is on its way and with it comes a rise in the population of ticks around Canada. As birds start migrating home, they bring ticks with them – and reportedly, Lyme disease. The ticks on the birds have been increasing for the past nine years.

Canadian officials are preparing for the surge and beginning to warn citizens about ticks and the diseases they can pass along.

It’s important to be on the lookout for symptoms such as fatigue, fever, skin rash, and headaches. Be aware that if left untreated Lyme disease can lead to extreme fatigue, irregular heart palpitations and nervous system disorders.

If you’re enjoying time outdoors, wear pants and long-sleeved shirts, tuck your pants into your socks, and wear bug spray.

Lyme Disease in Quebec
James Gathany

Make sure to remove any ticks on your body, with tweezers, as soon as you seem them. Remember to check your pets, as well!

Read also: Why Your Food Allergies Could Worsen – And It’s Not What You Think

Report trends

In 2015, Lyme disease was reported by nine provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. The number of cases reported in Canada increased more than six fold, from 144 in 2009 to 917 in 2015. The incidence has increased from 0.4 to 2.6 during the same period.

In 2015, over 91% of cases were reported from 3 provinces: Ontario, Nova Scotia and Québec. Surveillance in these three provinces indicates that populations of blacklegged ticks have become established and are continuously increasing and spreading. Nova Scotia recorded the highest incidence in Canada in 2015, 26.1 per 100 000 population, 10 times the national average.

Government of Canada