With the snow melting many people will be venturing out into the wilderness and should be wary of wood ticks.
The tick species that is most prevalent across the interior region, from the Rockies to the Okanagan valley, is the Rocky Mountain wood tick.
“That’s the most common tick and it occasionally can be a vector of some diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but those cases are very rare in B.C.; there’s only been a few over the past couple of decades,” Dr. Robert Parker, medical officer with Interior Health, said.
“It’s more common down in the U.S. Missouri states, not so much in the Rocky Mountains.”
He said that the Lyme disease carrying ticks are also not common in this area and much more prevalent on the coast.
“That’s the one that’s known to carry the Lyme disease bacteria,” he said, adding that on the coast, the amount of ticks that carry the disease is about one to two per cent.
He said that though the risk of Lyme disease is smaller here, there have been reports of people getting the disease while remaining in the area.
He said that people should take precautions against getting tick bites because even if the tick doesn’t have Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, it can still be problematic.
“For children and seniors wood ticks can cause a weakness, almost like a temporary paralysis if it bites on and stays on you for awhile,” he said, and added that this paralysis affects a person’s limbs – ticks don’t usually have enough toxins to cause the same thing in adults.
He said that every year Interior Health gets reports about ticks that have attached themselves and caused paralysis and said that the same thing happens to dogs.
The risks associated with ticks can be greatly reduced by doing some simple things like wearing a long sleeve shirt, tucked in long pants or shorts and other lighter coloured clothing that the ticks will be visible on.
“It’s out in the woods and the grasses that the ticks are the most prevalent and wanting to catch on to a mouse or a deer or a person, so when you get back from a hike it’s a good idea to give yourself and your kids a quick skin check to make sure there aren’t any ticks there that are clinging on,” Parker said.
“We want people to be out there and be active and healthy, so by all means go out there and go hiking and stuff, but you might want to take those simple precautions.”