While ticks are still a rarity in Alberta, there were nearly 1,000 ticks and 17 different species were collected in the province last year.
So should you be worried about ticks in Edmonton?
Not necessarily — but people should still be aware of the dangers of ticks, says Daniel Fitzgerald, a lab technologist at the province's Parasitology lab.
“So these ticks may have come here on migratory birds but are they here now? We don’t know that,” said Fitzgerald. “We haven’t found proof of that now but we want to be aware of it before it causes trouble.”
While there are other tick-borne diseases, Fitzgerald tests the hundreds of ticks that come into his lab to see if they are carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Ticks typically hide out in long grasses and bushes, but it is unusual to get bitten by one in Alberta. If it does happen, there is still a very slim chance the tick could be carrying Lyme disease bacteria.
Health officials recommend that Canadians be aware of the risk of Lyme disease and take precautions where there's potential for ticks:
- Cover up with light-coloured clothing to spot ticks more easily.
- Wear closed-toes shoes.
- Tuck your pant legs in your socks to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs.
- Tuck your shirt in to prevent ticks from getting on to your skin.
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET or Icaridin.
- Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks.
- Do daily "full body" checks for ticks on yourself, your children and your pets.
- If you find a tick on your skin, remove it within 24 to 36 hours.