Ticks are on the move in Saskatchewan
Ticks became active earlier this year in Saskatchewan because of the warm spring weather according to entomologist, Phil Curry. But he says it is hard to tell if the population is up.
"A lot of the reports we receive are from people encountering ticks where historically we haven't seen them before."
Historically, the southern half of the province has had ticks. Now, they're starting to establish themselves as far north as Prince Albert and Melfort.
"It's a number of factors: warmer weather, milder winters…amount of habitat," says Curry.
According to Curry, a common myth is that ticks can jump and they're only found in tall grass. In fact, Curry says, ticks cannot jump. Instead, they wait on the tips of grass and attach themselves to a human or animal when they walk by. Health officials say it's a good idea to wear light color clothes and tuck your pants into your socks.
The Chief Medical Health Officer for the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region, Dr. Khami Chokani, says to wear insect repellants that use Deet and apply it head to toe.
If you do get a tick, experts say to avoid home remedies like using a hot match, nail polish or Vaseline to suffocate it. The best way to remove a tick is with a pair of tweezers.
"You want to be able to get under the mouth parts of the tick and gently remove it before it really gets attached to you," says Curry.
"There is a small risk of getting lyme disease from ticks but the most common tick we find in Saskatchewan surveillance - the American Dog Tick – does not carry lyme disease."
Still, Chokani advises anyone who encounters a tick to bring it to a health professional so they can test it for disease.
Wherever you are, both Curry and Chokani say it's a good idea to do a thorough check of yourself and your pet for ticks especially now that the pesky critters are on the move province wide.