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What are the ticks that carry Lyme disease and how can they be avoided?

Nova Scotians are increasingly concerned about the number of potentially disease-carrying ticks in the province.

"The percentage of contaminated ticks that can cause you problems depends on where you are," says Andrew Hebda, curator of zoology at the Nova Scotia Museum.

Hebda is also an entomologist – someone who studies insects, insects and arachnids like ticks.

According to Hebda, there are currently 14 species of ticks in Nova Scotia, but only one is dangerous: the blacklegged tick.

"So, it's important to know what species you have," he says. "But even if you're in an area where Lyme disease is present, the disease is not present in all blacklegged ticks, it's only in a given percentage."

It varies according to the region of your province. For example, according to Hebda, between 22% and 24% of blacklegged ticks in the Bedford Basin region carry Lyme disease. region of the province.

According to Hebda, blacklegged ticks have been introduced into the province by birds and spread slowly through animals that they catch.

"They do not walk far," he says. "They will climb on the vegetation like grass or shrubs.A passing animal will dislodge them and they will catch this animal."

If the animal is small, like a field mouse, the tick will only cover a few meters. But if he locks himself on a deer or some other bigger species, he could travel much further.

"Every place where the birds brought them and where they were established and reproduced is the center of a circle and radiates from it," says Hebda at the NEWS 95.7 Todd Veinotte Show.

If you find a tick, Hebda says there are many ways to find out which species it is.

One solution is to examine the dorsal scutum of the tick – a protective shield on the back.

"If you look at a tick of wood, a dog tick, it's a bit like a rough, brown triangle with creamy flakes," says Hebda.

In contrast, a blacklegged tick with Lyme disease may have a darker round scutum. The blacklegged tick also has an orange body behind the shield.

"The abdomen, the part behind it is bright orange," says Hebda. "It's the only tick we have like that."

The palpes of a tick, the leg-shaped appendages that help it stick to your body, can also be an indicator.

According to Hebda, they are short and stocky, but long and delicate on the black-legged tick.

It is important to see what type of tick has bitten you, as most tick bites are indistinguishable.

"All ticks pierce a very small hole, about 20% of a millimeter," says Hebda.

A sting caused by a tick infected with Lyme disease may possibly appear as a rash, and the curator stated that it was important to see a doctor if you were bitten.

"It's a big rash, anything over 45 millimeters suggests something that should worry you," he says. "And there are a number of relatively benign symptoms you may have, such as discomfort, stiffness of the joints."

There is a test for Lyme disease, but Hebda explains that it is only accurate several weeks after contracting the disease.

"There is a very effective test on the blood that detects the presence of antibodies against the bacteria," he says. "But there is not enough antibody for about five weeks."

But a tick can not transfer Lyme disease to a human unless it is attached to you for at least 24 hours. That's why Hebda says it's important to regularly check for ticks if you spend time in the woods.

"The most important thing and the easiest thing of all is to check the ticks," he says. "You come and you spent all day outside, and then check yourself thoroughly."

Hebda recommends to people visiting the website of the Department of Health and Wellness to get more information about ticks.

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