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Ticks get more active in hot, humid weather
This hot, humid weather may not be ideal for some Maritimers -- but it's perfect for ticks and officials are keeping a close eye on their numbers.
Biologist Andrew Hebda keeps a container of ticks in his pocket because it’s part of his job.
He says the weather we’ve been having has been perfect for the little bloodsuckers.
“The warmer it is, the more active they are, the faster they can move,” said Hebda.
It doesn't necessarily mean there are more; it’s just that we may see them more often.
“We're more likely to come across them now,” Hebda said. “But keep in mind we've always got some ticks available.”
Nova Scotia has 14 kinds of ticks, including the black-legged tick, most commonly known to transmit Lyme disease.
Right now, those ticks have just been born, and are small and hard to see. But they can still carry the disease.
Donna Lugar knows more about tick prevention and Lyme disease than most.
She struggled to get her diagnosis of Lyme disease 7 years ago.
It began when she started having memory problems, had trouble seeing, her hair was falling out.
She still struggles with symptoms every day.
“I've had tinnitus 24-7 for years,” Lugar said. “My vision, even with glasses, will fade in and out.”
When it comes to risk of Lyme disease the province of Nova Scotia says the highest risk areas are on the mainland, except for Guysborough County which is moderate. In New Brunswick, it’s the areas surrounding Moncton, Saint John, and Fredericton.
Between 2002 and 2016, Nova Scotia had more than 1,000 cases of Lyme disease reported.
Lugar lives in an area considered high risk.
She thinks the province should be posting more signs in wooded areas, along trails, and in parks to let residents and visitors know there are ticks.
“If the signage was in the parks, and you're seeing it and go ‘oh yeah, I should check for ticks’ or if you're camping and it’s there and you say, ‘oh yeah, I should check,’” she said.
Dogs can also get Lyme disease from black-legged ticks.
Veterinarian Dr. Stephanie Haywardsays pet owners seem to be aware.
“We've seen over 75 at our clinic this year,” Hayward said.“A lot more people are on tick preventatives, so we're not seeing them come in because we're already actively preventing them.”
Along with preventative medicine, tick checks are recommended for pets -- and for people.
Lugar says ticks are now just a part of life.
“They're here, but you can’t be terrified, you have to go out, the fresh air’s good for you,” she said. “We have to just learn to live with them and not be afraid of them.”
With tick season really occurring all year round in parts of the Maritimes, she says information is the best first line of defence.
There are officials keeping track of what kinds of ticks are where, and ongoing projections on where they'll be and how many there will be five, even 10 years from now.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Heidi Petracek.