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Experts fear mild winter means more ticks and more disease

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The warm weather that is drawing people outside is also bringing out ticks.

“In Nova Scotia, the ticks are out and about and have been for some weeks. New Brunswick and P.E.I., they’re also starting to feed on people and pets,” says biology professor and tick expert Vett Lloyd.

“We’re at least a month early this year. Usually they would slowly pick up in April and we wouldn’t really get a big pulse until May and we’re already picking it up.”

When Angela Whiteley got up from Easter dinner on Sunday and looked in the mirror, she saw a dark spot on her neck.

Angela Whiteley found a tick on her neck on March 31, 2024.

“I didn’t think it was a mole or anything so I looked a little closer and sure enough it was embedded right in there, the head was right in there, and it was tiny, they’re tiny,” says Whiteley.

The Weymouth, N.S., resident went to the drug store Monday and got some medication in hopes of warding off Lyme disease – something she didn't do last summer after a red, blotchy rash appeared on her skin.

“I actually should have gone to the doctors well before I did. I suffered with it for about a week, and it was just pure exhaustion and brain fog. I finally went to the emergency department and, when he saw me, he took one look at me and said, ‘Yeah, you have Lyme,’” says Whiteley.

With ticks out earlier than usual, Lloyd is concerned it will lead to more cases of the disease.

“Inevitably, more means more illness.”

When it comes to removing an embedded tick, Lloyd recommends using your fingers or tweezers to pull slowly in an upward motion to try to get the head. It’s also a good idea to hold onto the tick for a while in case symptoms start to show.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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