WINNIPEG - With the start of tick season, the Manitoba government says cases of tick-borne illnesses are rising sharply. With Manitobans getting out under the sun more, officials are warning of the dangers posed by disease spread by some ticks, and are using an app to help people keep track of which ticks are the dangerous ones.
Manitoba Health says although COVID-19 has contributed to a backlog tick-borne disease counts from 2020, they found that, from 2015 to 2019, cases of Lyme disease, which is carried by black-legged (or deer) wood ticks, more than doubled.
Weeks, months or even years after a Lyme disease infection, patients may develop meningitis, which is an inflammation around the brain; Bell's palsy, a paralysis of one side of the face, and muscle impairment. Lyme disease can also cause heart problems, eye inflammation and liver inflammation (hepatitis) just weeks after infection.
The province is warning those in southern Manitoba especially to be careful in dense shrubs, tall grass, stay on the trail as much as possible when hiking, and check themselves and their pets for ticks when returning home. If you are bitten by a black-legged tick, you should contact a medical professional as soon as possible
Manitoba joined the new eTick program last week, which sends photos to a team of experts to identify the types of ticks they encounter. The app is free to download, and the program is also available through its website.