It’s already tick season in South Okanagan.
With a fairly mild winter, ticks are making their way out in full-force.
Donnelly Hort noticed a tick on her arm when she got home from a walk near the Rattlesnake Canyon area of Osoyoos this weekend.
“It was actually on my arm when I noticed it, while I was in my house,” said Hort on Sunday. “No more walks through the orchard for me.”
Her husband quickly killed the blood-sucking tick.
Another person in South Okanagan noticed their dog had taken a tick home, following a walk in Oliver.
Tick season usually starts in April.
Last spring and summer was a particularly bad year for ticks throughout the Interior.
The Rocky Mountain wood tick is the most common tick found in the Interior. They are known to spread diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever. They aren’t known to carry Lyme Disease, according to Interior Health.
The Western blacklegged tick is common in warm, moist areas on Vancouver Island and the B.C. coast. Bites from these ticks are said to be painful, and they are responsible for transferring the microorganism which causes Lyme Disease in humans. Lyme Disease is debilitating and there are no cures if not treated right away. It is only recently, that doctors in B.C. have been testing for Lyme Disease.
Another common tick is the brown dog tick, which mainly targets dogs and can spread indoors within small cracks and crevices after falling off of a dog.
In March 2020, a dog in Princeton reportedly had a confirmed case of Lyme Disease which can prove to be fatal for canines.
Two years ago, Penticton’s Hoodoo Adventures participated in a study of ticks in the Okanagan Valley by acting as a tick collection centre.
“We provided a safe collection location and many people dropped ticks to us. These ticks were sent to be studied for the presence of Lyme disease and any other things dangerous to humans,” said Hoodoo owner Lyndie Hill.
Over 200 ticks were collected, all of which were the Dermacentor andersoni species (commonly known as the Rocky Mountain wood tick). Sixty of the ticks were ‘biobanked’ at the University of Alberta’s Tick Biobank for Molecular Biology Studies and were genetically tested for various pathogens.
The best defence against ticks is to cover all exposed skin below the waist when adventuring outdoors and to rigorously check for ticks after outdoor activities.
Although most tick bites are harmless, it is important to watch for signs of illness and see a doctor as soon as possible if you notice a bull’s eye rash or other symptoms.
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