Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/4/2010 (2686 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A local entomologist is warning Winnipeggers the ticks known to carry Lyme disease are here and out for blood.
University of Winnipeg biologist Rob Anderson said he plucked a black-legged deer tick off his dog Tuesday night after a walk near the Beausejour area. Anderson said he immediately recognized the tick was the same species known to carry Lyme disease-causing bacteria, and was surprised to see the bug so early in spring.
Anderson speculates adult deer ticks are breeding earlier because of warmer temperatures and said Winnipeggers should check themselves and their pets for any signs of the bloodsucking bugs.
Lyme disease can affect both humans and animals and causes symptoms ranging from rashes and fatigue to more serious complications, including paralysis or cardiac problems. A feeding deer tick may take between 24 and 48 hours to deposit the bacteria in a person, leaving most people a chance to locate and remove the insect before they're exposed to Lyme disease.
"There's no question this means there are established breeding populations of the bugs in parts of Manitoba," Anderson said. "They're certainly not restricted to the southeast."
In recent years, scientists have said the risk of being bitten by an infected deer tick is on the rise as the bugs spread to more Manitoba communities. The ticks have a foothold in the southeastern part of the province, including Buffalo Point, but are believed to be breeding in other parts of Manitoba.
Scientists estimate about 10 per cent of deer ticks found outside southeastern Manitoba are infected with the bacteria known to cause Lyme disease.
Last year, one Manitoban tested positive for Lyme disease, bringing the total to 13 since 2007.
Anderson said it's possible last year's cool summer didn't let deer ticks fully develop into adults. He said if the warm weather continues, there may be more adult ticks breeding in spring and a larger nymph population this summer.
Anderson said he plans to keep the female deer tick he picked off his dog to see if she will lay eggs, allowing him to study a whole colony.
"Be on the alert. They are out and looking for blood," Anderson said.