Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Tick News

I have talked a lot about ticks - me and the dogs tend to go out into the woods often enough that we get ticks on us. So when there was an article in today's Chronicle Herald today about ticks - it caught my eye.

It was an article about a guy who was blown away by the fact that he got lyme disease by walking his bernese mountain dog in Admiral's Cove Park out in Bedford. When I was reading it I exclaimed to myself - NO SHIT SHERLOCK! I thought everyone knew that the ticks in Admiral's Cove Park had lyme disease in them. But I guess I was wrong. I've had a page on my website about ticks since 2006 when I first started finding ticks on the dogs - so I thought since it's early in the summer I'd point out the page again because it's got lots of good information there - and I'd link to my earlier postings that I've made about my tick findings because they've got pictures of the ticks I've found - if you handle the grossness of them. I've never found a tick on myself - I think I move too slowly for them.

I've also never found a tick on the little dogs - I think it may be because they stick to the path's pretty closely - so they don't tend to go in the high grass.

The places we've mostly caught ticks is out at Prospect Bay, The Dingle - can you imagine! And out here in Spryfield. Really though - they're everywhere.

Here's the link to the page on my website - and my previous postings are here -

There are ticks at the Dingle!

Out Damn Tick!

Ticks are everywhere in the HRM

Here's the article that was in the paper today:

Martin Maloney used to regularly walk his two dogs through the woods near Admiral’s Cove Park in Bedford.

That stopped in January, he said, when he was diagnosed with Lyme disease, which he believes he caught from one of the many black-legged ticks that roam a roughly two-kilometre area around the public park.

Mr. Maloney is believed to be the first person in Nova Scotia to contract the disease this year.

"The only symptoms that I had, other than just normal aches and pains, I was mixing my words up when I was talking," the 49-year-old Bedford man said Monday night.

He said it was only after one of his dogs tested positive for the disease that he was advised to get his family checked out. It turns out he was the only one infected.

"We pick ticks off them all the time," Mr. Maloney said of the dogs. "We sent some in (to the Natural Resources Department) to get analyzed and one came back positive."

Lyme disease may cause a rash, fever, fatigue, muscle aches and headaches. If untreated, it can lead to facial palsy as well as chronic joint and heart problems.

Mr. Maloney said he was aware that the park near his home is a hot spot for ticks because of the high number of deer that frequent the area.

The ticks feed off the deer’s blood, which in turn allows them to lay eggs, sometimes as many as 1,500 at a time.

Dr. Richard Gould is the medical officer of health for the South Shore, Southwest and Annapolis Valley district health authorities. He confirmed Monday that Admiral’s Cove Park is one of three areas in the province with established tick colonies that have tested positive for Lyme disease in the past.

The other two spots are in Lunenburg and Gunning Cove, near Shelburne.

Dr. Gould said he’s "heard rumours" but doesn’t know for certain of any confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Nova Scotia this year. He said 12 cases have been confirmed in the province since 2001, mostly on the South Shore.

"It takes awhile for the reports to drift in, between the time of diagnosis, the testing and the reporting to public health," Dr. Gould said.

"Plus, not all the cases are reported. They’re supposed to be, but sometimes they don’t."

Mr. Maloney said the infectious diseases department at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax is aware of his case. No one in the department was available for comment Monday night.

Peter Graham, spokesman for the Capital district health authority, said the department wouldn’t have passed along the diagnosis to the Health Department unless Lyme disease was a reportable condition.

"If it’s not a reportable disease, it’s possible that we had it but we just don’t report it," Mr. Graham said.

Jeff Ogden, a field entomologist for the Natural Resources Department, said ticks have made their way to Admiral’s Cove Park on the backs of birds.

Most areas in the province have ticks, he said, but only those with a high concentration of white-tailed deer end up establishing colonies.

A research project is in the works to combat the rising tick population. Bait stations would be set up to attract deer, which would then be sprayed with insecticide.

"We’re hoping to drop the numbers of ticks down, therefore reducing the risk of human contact to ticks," Mr. Ogden said.

But if people do come into contact with a tick and show any symptoms of Lyme disease, they should go see their family doctor, Dr. Gould said.

"It’s readily treatable with oral antibiotics," he said.

That doesn’t ease Mr. Maloney’s mind.

He said he was treated right away, but the disease could flare up again at any time.

"I’m always going to be positive," Mr. Maloney said.

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