Winter is coming, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods just yet as far as tick diseases are concerned.
Dr. Richard Rusk, Manitoba’s Medical Officer of Health for Communicable Disease, is advising Manitobans to be mindful of the pests this fall. In the past two years, 15 cases of the emerging tick diseases anaplasmosis and babesiosis have been reported to Manitoba health, he said.
This year is only the second year Manitoba Health has been tracking the number of cases of the emerging diseases. According to Rusk, it will take about five years of monitoring before we can come to any meaningful conclusions about the prevalence of these infections.
Reported cases of tick-borne illness in the past 2 years:
Lyme disease — 70
Anaplasmosis — 14
Babesiosis — 1
The diseases are carried by the same kind of tick that spreads Lyme disease — called blacklegged or deer ticks — and can co-exist in the host. In fact, one tick carrying two diseases can pass on both at the same time.
Rusk said a small portion of reported cases so far have been from people suffering from Lyme disease and one of the emerging infections simultaneously.
He said blacklegged ticks are still active at this time of year and the province “still has teams out doing surveillance.”
“Blacklegged ticks will be a threat until there’s frost consistently,” Rusk said. “If you’re out in Birds Hill, Labarrière Park and Pembina Valley, it’s still very possible to get ticks.”
Symptoms can start five to 21 days after a tick bite and may include fever, chills, headache, joint aches, nausea and vomiting, often in association with blood abnormalities and/or liver abnormalities. Anaplasmosis can be successfully treated with antibiotics.
Symptoms can start one to six weeks after a tick bite and may include non-specific flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea or fatigue. Babesiosis can also be successfully treated with antibiotics.
Symptoms can start about three days to one month after a tick bite, often with an expanding rash, which then fades. Early symptoms can also include headache, stiff neck, muscle aches or fatigue, fever, chills and swollen lymph nodes. Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics and treatment is most successful in the early stages of infection.