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National Tick Awareness Month focuses on pests that are fitter, better, faster, stronger than ever


March is National Tick Awareness Month in Canada and the pesky pests more prevalent than ever before.

The campaign, first introduced by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association in 2016 in partnership with Merck Animal Health, is focused on telling the public ticks may be fitter, better, faster, and stronger.

Pet owners are wary of ticks no matter the season.

“I usually do think about it all year around,” says dog owner Andrea Groden. “Just because I am a dog owner and we have a ton of deer on our property.”

“We protect her year around,” says fellow dog owner Daniel Hamilton. “Because we know that ticks can gather even though it’s below temperatures, and with this coming temperatures they are always looking for a host.”

But with it being so early in the year, personal protection isn’t top of mind for everyone.

“To tell you the truth I wasn’t think about it at all,” admits resident Bob Harris. “Because my legs are too covered up to keep away from the cold but if it was a little bit warmer I might be concerned.”

The black-legged or deer tick, which is known for carrying the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease, is the greatest concern for Maritimers. While ticks are most prevalent in the summer months, veterinarian Dr. Maggie Brown-Bury says ticks can be active every season and any day the temperature reaches 4 C and above.

“It doesn’t matter if there is snow on the ground or what else is happening,” says Brown-Bury, who also sits on the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association council as the representative for Newfoundland and Labrador. “We want people to be aware as the season starts, not when we are in the peak of the season, so they are prepared for when every day is above four degrees.”

Brown-Bury says ticks numbers have risen in this part of the country in recent years, noting when she first starting working in Newfoundland in 2009, ticks were not on anyone’s mind.

Not only are ticks seemingly more active in colder temperatures, the tiny creatures also appear to have become more resilient in surviving harsh winters.

“As soon as it’s warm enough for ticks to be active, the ones you are most likely to be encountering are the ones that could infect you with Lyme disease,” Brown-Bury says.

Ticks do not fly or jump, so avoiding long grass or wooded areas is the best way to ensure you don’t have any tick troubles.

People can also tuck their pants into their socks while on walks to avoid ticks crawling up their legs, or use tick-specific repellant.

There are also medications and treatments that are available at most pet stores or veterinarian offices for pets. The best mitigation practice is to always do a thorough check of a pet when returning home from any walk.

“Some pets, if you are doing something different, it kind of freaks them out a little bit,” Dr. Brown-Bury notes. “So if you make it a part of your routine, especially somewhere where ticks are very much an issue, you can catch them while they are tiny and small and have just latched on. You are going to be doing a lot to help prevent problems.”

Brown-Bury urges residents to check out Tick Talk for more information. Top Stories

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