Concern over emerging tick borne illnesses in Manitoba

Concern over emerging tick borne illnesses in Manitoba

With tick season in full swing, a Lyme disease advocacy group is hoping to stress the importance of prevention while educating people on emerging tick-borne illnesses. 

Powassan or Deer Tick virus, and Borrelia Miyamotoi bacteria have been found in black legged ticks in the province. 

While health officials have not found anyone infected with Borrelia Miyamotoi, a recent study did find some residents tested positive for Miyamotoi.

Provincial medical officer of health Dr. Richard Rusk told CTV News there’s concern over Miyamotoi. 

“We had this as the new disease for the physicians, so that went out in a letter just last month for the physicians,” said Rusk “And we mentioned Powassan as well, but the risk for that is substantially lower.” 

Rusk said symptoms of Miyamotoi could look similar to Lyme disease. 

While someone might not get a rash, they could experience aches and pains or a fever. 

And similar to Lyme disease, Rusk said treatment would begin immediately. 

“Our protocol says if you are suspicious for Lyme disease, you start treating,” said Rusk. 

Rusk also said much like Lyme disease, a blood test could potentially detect Borrealia Miyamotoi. 

“They can be tested but the physician has to be thinking ‘could this be something else beyond the ones that we normally get?’”

Manitoba Lyme is a volunteer-driven advocacy group that aims to raise awareness of tick-borne illnesses in the province. 

Both Jan Camela and Marnie Le Page joined the group in hopes of preventing others from experiencing the potentially debilitating disease. 

Camela has lived with pains from Lyme disease for five years. 

Le Page’s daughter was diagnosed with the disease three years ago and still suffers. 

Camela and Le Page said prevention was the first line of defense. 

“If you can prevent this or know what to do if you are bit by a tick and get the proper treatment, you’re saving yourself a lifetime,” said Le Page. 

The group also suggested consulting a physician with concerns or symptoms, and said that early detection and treatment are key. 

According to health officials, people should cover up when heading into any area where there could be ticks, along with tucking pants into socks, using tick repellent, and doing a thorough tick check upon returning inside. 

Published at Wed, 16 May 2018 20:13:01 -0400