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Lyme disease in Nova Scotia: Ticking the boxes for safety

Last year, we shared a blog post about tick safety and Lyme disease prevention during the summer.

Since that time, experts estimate that higher-risk Lyme disease areas in the province have more than doubled.

 What do the numbers mean?

Don’t panic – the higher numbers aren’t necessarily an indicator that tick populations are on the rise. Rather, experts believe the number of reported incidents has more to do with increased awareness.

“We have a good environment for tick populations to establish, and with greater awareness we often see an increase in testing, which results in an increase in numbers,” says Colleen Ryan, a communicable disease prevention and control consultant for the Department of Health and Wellness. 

Tick estimated risk areas 2017

Tick estimated risk areas 2018

Higher numbers aren’t a reason to cancel any camping trips or to spend the summer inside, but they are a sign to be cautious, says Ryan.   
“We want people to enjoy the outdoors safely. Just as you protect yourself from the sun, we want people to protect themselves from tick-borne illnesses.”

Protecting yourself against Lyme disease

Here are some of the Department of Health and Wellness’ tips on preventing Lyme disease.

  • Use insect repellants that contain DEET or Icaridin on exposed skin and clothes
  • Avoid high grass and stick to well-traveled paths
  • Wear light coloured, long sleeved shirts and pants and tuck your pants into your socks
  • Do a tick check on both humans and pets after a walk – look around ears, arm pits, belly buttons, groins, waists and especially hair and scalp areas

In Nova Scotia, only infected blacklegged ticks carry Lyme disease. If you do find a tick on you, the University of Rhode Island has a Tick Identification Chart that can help to identify blacklegged (deer) ticks from dog ticks, the other species present in the province.

You can find more information about tick safety in Nova Scotia here. 

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