Expert says there’s an uptick in foreign ticks in the Maritimes
Biology Professor at Mount Allision University, Dr. Vett Lloyd has been researching ticks and their connection to Lyme disease for a decade and she says she had plenty of specimens to work with this season.
According to Lloyd, the apparent bumper crop of ticks in the Maritimes is a result of this summer’s hot and humid weather, but she says her research shows they’re also hitchhiking here..
“They come over on migratory birds they drop off their feed on local animals and they feed on local people,” she says.
Lloyd says she has been sent ticks normally found in Brazil, Poland, Europe, and two kangaroo ticks from as far away as Australia this year.
Lloyd says when ticks aren’t native to the area where they appear, there is the risk of transmitting European Lyme disease, which is not normally tested for in Canada.
Of the half dozen samples of exotic ticks Lloyd has collected, one has tested positive for European Lyme disease.
“They have different versions of Lyme disease and there's a type that gives you really high fevers. There are viruses that cause encephalitis and meningitis, there's a lot of nasty stuff in ticks,” Lloyd says.
Lloyd says with the humid weather conditions and new knowledge of ticks from different countries present, she urges the public to be vigilant.
“The ones that people catch and kill and send into the lab are not the problem,” she says. “It's the ones you don't find, if they're feeding on local wildlife they are introducing diseases from away.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Johnathan MacInnis.