Tick Bites

July 14, 2018

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Tick bite symptoms vary on a case by case basis. The exact symptoms depend on the species of tick and the severity of the allergic reaction to the bite. Tick bites frequently produce blisters or rashes on the skin of the victim. A distinctive red spot commonly develops at the site of the bite, as well. Other common symptoms of tick bites include uncoordinated movement and general weakness. The bites of certain tick species can also generate severe pain or swelling. In serious cases which demand immediate medical attention, tick bites may cause the victim to develop chest pain or heart palpitations, laboured breathing, a severe headache, or even paralysis. Medical attention should also be sought for the development of a fever, stiff neck, joint pain or muscle aches, sensitivity to light, swollen lymph nodes, or flu-like symptoms, as these indicators may signal the incubation of a tick-borne disease.

The risk of contracting disease from a tick bite remains high in areas known to support large populations of ticks. In fact, researchers contend that ticks spread more diseases than any other type of arthropod. Ticks spread disease by serving as vectors for bacterial, protozoan, and viral pathogens, which the biting ectoparasites transmit from one host to another. Canadians are increasingly exposed to the dangers of ticks as the parasitic pests become more prevalent across the country. Ticks in Canada transmit Lyme disease more commonly than other.

Lyme Disease 

Lyme disease is a serious illness capable of afflicting humans as well as pets. Symptoms range from little or no effects to recurring arthritis, numbness or paralysis, and problems with the nervous system. When left untreated, Lyme disease symptoms can persist for years and may even result in death, though fatalities are rare.

Black-legged Tick Bites

Black-legged ticks also remain capable of spreading pathogens that cause other illnesses. In addition to Lyme disease, the hazardous parasites have the ability to transmit Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis (HGA), human babesiosis, and encephalitis. Other tick species are known to spread disease in Canada as well.

Introduced to the country by migrating birds, Rocky Mountain wood ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), while American dog ticks spread tularaemia. The Public Health Agency of Canada identifies the southern areas of British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec as the primary locations where infected ticks are most commonly found in the country. Parts of Nova Scotia also support established populations of the potentially dangerous parasites.

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Reviewed by Alice Sinia, Ph.D., MSc on July 12 2018.

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