‘They’ve been increasing’: Manitoba seeing jump in number of ticks

This year’s tick season is trending upward in Manitoba according to data and experts.

The latest numbers from etick.ca – a website where people can report tick sightings and encounters – show 68 entries in Manitoba since the beginning of March. That is up from the 23 submissions in the same time span last year.

Quinn Lawrence has a daily routine of taking her dog Cuba for a walk and that routine includes a thorough check for unwanted guests like ticks.

“We’ll do the different pills that we have to do every month for her, but it’s something that we have to check her all the time. And she’s a black dog, so it’s hard to see them on her sometimes,” said Lawrence.

Entomologist Taz Stuart said it could be an especially bad year for ticks.

“A nice mild winter is one of the key things,” said Stuart. You’ve got the perfect conditions for them. They’ve been increasing over the last several years.”

That includes the black-legged tick and other disease-carrying types.

“Especially since 2000 (ticks have) spread literally (throughout) the southern half of Manitoba and it is spreading west as well. So more and more ticks, more chance of a prevalence of Lyme disease or other diseases.”

Dr. Jonas Watson, a veterinarian at Grant Park Animal Hospital, said he has already seen about a dozen animals testing positive with antibodies to Lyme disease.

“That doesn’t mean that they’ve got clinical illness. That just means they’ve been exposed. So it’s a good reminder that ticks are out there,” said Watson.

He said tick prevention medication is the best way to protect your pets.

“These come in usually chewable, medicated treats and sometimes as topical products. They’re very effective and very safe.”

Even with the medication, he recommends still looking over your pets – including their ears, eyes and mouth.

“You don’t need to panic if you find a tick on your dog, and you don’t need to worry about them burrowing into the dog. We usually use a tick remover device, or our own fingers, to firmly grasp the tick and yank (it) away from the animal. That usually will remove the tick in its entirety.”

Stuart is reminding people to check themselves as well to ensure no tick has clung on. He recommends people check after being outdoors and consider preventative steps, like covering exposed skin and using a repellent.

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