Province issues Lyme disease warning

By MorinvilleNews.com Staff

Edmonton – Although there have been no reported human cases of Lyme disease this year, five ticks have tested positive this year for Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. The ticks were found on four dogs and a cat in the Calgary and Edmonton areas, and were submitted to Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) for testing by veterinarians.

A bite by an infected tick can cause illness in people, wildlife and domestic animals if the tick remains attached for longer than 24 hours.

“Lyme disease can be a serious condition if it’s not detected early and is left untreated,” said Dr. Andre Corriveau, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health in a release July 19. “Your best defence against Lyme disease is prevention. Everyone should use insect repellent and cover up when walking in tall grass, woods or brush to avoid being bitten by ticks.”

Borrielia burgdorferi was detected in 13 ticks submitted from throughout the province in 2010. ARD tick surveillance has identified more than 25 ticks carried the Lyme disease bacteria since 2007.

There were 20 cases of human Lyme disease reported in Alberta from 1989 to 2008, none confirmed to have originated in Alberta – most cases being linked to travel in the U.S. or Europe.

“Ticks that carry Lyme disease are rarely found in Alberta; however, Agriculture and Rural Development is continuing to monitor the situation and is trying to determine whether or not the ticks that carry Lyme disease are established in the province,” said Dr. Gerald Hauer, Chief Provincial Veterinarian in the same release. “It is important for pet owners to inspect their animals for ticks, especially after they’ve visited areas where ticks are, such as grassy fields and wooded areas.”
Lyme disease-carrying ticks normally attach and feed in the summer months from May to August and may even attach up until the late fall. In humans, the disease is recognized as a circular, red rash starting at the tick bite three to 30 days after the bite occurs. The rash may be accompanied by fever, chills, headache, fatigue and swollen lymph glands. In some cases, Lyme disease results in neurological and muscular problems weeks or months after the original infection. More serious cases can lead to recurrent meningitis, heart problems and arthritis.

If you find a tick on your pet, contact your local veterinarian so the tick can be identified and collected for testing. The veterinarian can provide advice on how to remove it and prescribe treatment for the pet if it is necessary.

For more information on Lyme disease, visit myhealth.alberta.ca or view the Alberta Top Doc video at topdoc.alberta.ca.

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