New Brunswick

Ticks that carry Lyme disease on the move in New Brunswick

Ticks capable of spreading Lyme disease have spread to another area of New Brunswick, according to the chief medical officer of health.

York County becomes 6th county to be named risk area for blacklegged ticks

Ticks have now been found in six of New Brunswick's 15 counties, all in southern and central New Brunswick.

Ticks capable of spreading Lyme disease have spread to another area of New Brunswick, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Blacklegged ticks have been detected in York County, which stretches from McAdam in the southwest to the Renous Highway in the north and includes Fredericton.

York is the sixth county where ticks have been confirmed as well as the largest, stretching 166 kilometres between its two farthest points.

Blacklegged ticks had already been found in Charlotte, Kings, Saint John, Albert and Westmorland counties.

Dr. Jackie Badcock, the senior program adviser to the health officer, said the entire county has been identified as a risk area.

"It's really hard to define specific areas where ticks live, and we know that they can spread too," said Badcock.

"So once we've identified an area in a county we sort of go 'Yeah, that whole county is probably where ticks are established and are breeding."

Tick surveillance

Officials drag a white sheet across the ground to detect ticks. (Roger Dubois/CBC)

Badcock said the ticks were discovered through the province's tick surveillance program, which has passive and active elements.

The passive element relies on members of the public reporting ticks they've found.

The active element is far more time-consuming.

"We actually physically go into the field and drag a white cloth behind us and look for ticks on that cloth," Badcock said. 

"The active surveillance is pretty intense."

Precautions

The province recommends insect repellent, covering up in the woods and daily tick checks to reduce the risk of tick bites. (CDC)

To avoid tick bites, the province recommends that you: 

  • Use insect repellents.

  • Cover up in the woods.

  • Avoid grassy and brush areas of forests and walk in the middle of trails.

  • Keep grass mowed.

  • Keep playground equipment in a sunny location.

  • Check for ticks.

Badcock also said it's a good idea to check clothing before you go back inside for ticks and to do a more thorough full body check when indoors.

"Doing a daily tick check, really looking and examining your body very carefully, for areas the ticks might be is important," she said.

"If you're checking every day you'll be able to remove ticks before they probably attach."

The province said removing ticks within 24 hours usually prevents infections, but if a person is infected with Lyme disease symptoms can begin in as little as three days.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, aches and pains and a rash.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton