A new map released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control lists the Castlegar and Trail areas as Lyme disease risk areas.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium spread by ticks, tiny bugs that feed on the blood of animals and humans.
Although the map identifies many of the populated areas of the province as having a risk of Lyme disease, the overall risk in the province remains low with less than 0.5 cases per 100,000 people and a less than one-per-cent tick infection rate.
Lyme disease is carried by Ixodes pacificus and Ixodes angustus, also known as western black-legged ticks. But most of the ticks in the region are wood ticks (Dermacentor andersoni) which do not carry the Lyme disease bacteria. However, wood ticks can carry other diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, although it is rare.
The BCCDC has launched a campaign asking for the public’s assistance in identifying ticks with the goal of limiting Lyme disease. They have partnered with eTick, a free app that allows users to upload tick photos so researchers can track where western black-legged ticks are found.
Lyme disease is preventable by avoiding tick bites.
“There are easy things you can do to protect yourself from ticks such as covering up before you head outdoors and checking for ticks when returning from a walk, hike or bike ride,” said Dr. Fatemeh Sabet, Interior Health medical health officer. “Most tick bites do not result in illness; however, any bite from a tick should be cleaned because the infection can occur whenever there is a break in the skin.”
Anyone who has a bull’s-eye target skin rash after a tick bite or any other symptoms compatible with Lyme disease should see their physician.
More information on identifying ticks and what to do it you are bitten by one can be found at bccdc.ca.