Saskatchewan

Everything you need to know about the upcoming tick season

An expert from the University of Saskatchewan has all the information you need to avoid the little critters as the weather warms.

An expert from the University of Saskatchewan has all the information you need to avoid the little critters

A close up of an American dog tick, by far the most common tick species in Saskatchewan. ( Pratap Kafle)

Tick time is here.

And, according to Dr. Emily Jenkins, acting head of the department of veterinary microbiology at the University of Saskatchewan, the season is just getting started.

With few submissions in Saskatchewan so far on Canada's tick-tracking eTick website, it might be too early to tell what the new tick season will look like, Jenkins said.

"We do generally see the first couple of ticks begin to come out in April and late May, but we don't see our peak until early June," she said. "I expect that we'll be seeing a steady increase for the next couple of weeks and then probably hitting our peak late May. There's no real tick forecast mechanism, unfortunately."

It's a good idea to know where the tick "hotspots" are. Places used by rabbits, rodents, deer and other wildlife are high on the list. It's no secret that ticks like dogs, so places heavily used by man's best friend should be watched, too.

Dr. Emily Jenkins of the University of Saskatchewan says the province sees about 10 Lyme disease ticks submitted each year. (Submitted by Western College of Veterinary Medicine)

"Fields, meadows, trails and edges of paths are popular places for ticks to hang out because they know that they'll be getting a ride when somebody comes along or from an animal," she said.

Other tick avoidance tips?

  • Ticks like warm, sunny days so go out when it's colder if you really want to avoid them.

  • Early mornings are also a good time to avoid ticks as they like the sunnier parts of the day.

  • Some areas are "tickier" than others, so try to avoid them when you take note.

  • Wearing long sleeves, long pants, or covered clothing will help you see the tick and get it off you before it attaches.

  • Frequent tick checks. It's suggested that you closely inspect yourself, your kids and your pets after six hours to get the ticks off.

  • Repellents with DEET are also a good idea.

After following all precautionary measures, it's possible to still find a tick or two attached. What then? Get them off as fast as you can!

"If they are attached, we suggest that you grab them as close to the attachment point on the skin as possible with tweezers or your fingers," Jenkins said. "Pull with slow, steady pressure to break the glue seal that the tick has applied, to get the whole tick out. They secrete a blob of glue and then bury their mouth parts in the skin, glueing themselves on."

She mentioned that if you're concerned about the tick, you can take a digital photograph and submit it to the eTick app or website to get an identification. This well let you know if it is the common dog tick or a more concerning tick that carries Lyme disease.

Although it is possible for ticks to be introduced through migratory birds and other people and pets who have travelled from areas where ticks are present, Saskatchewan is not considered a pandemic region for ticks that cause Lyme disease.

"We usually see 10 Lyme disease ticks submitted to us every year," she said. "Some with a travel history and sometimes some with no travel history."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adeoluwa Atayero is a reporter for CBC News based in Saskatchewan. Before moving to Canada, Atayero worked as reporter, content manager and communications consultant in Lagos, Nigeria. He holds a masters in journalism from the University of Regina. @theadeatayero

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