At a time when tick populations are increasing, the Ottawa area is becoming a hotspot for one of the lesser-known illnesses spread by black-legged ticks.

Anaplasmosis can cause fever, headache, muscle aches, chills and severe respiratory illness, among other symptoms. If not treated, it can be life-threatening, especially in people with compromised immune systems. It is less common than Lyme disease, also spread by black-legged ticks. Both are treated with antibiotics.

Those are two of the potentially severe illnesses spread by ticks that are now being closely monitored by public health officials in Ontario as disease-carrying ticks spread through the province. They also include babesiosis, a bacterial infection, and Powassan virus, a rare disease that causes encephalitis and severe illness.

The increased scrutiny comes as health officials are warning that Canadians are at increased risk of tick-borne diseases because of climate change. This week an Ottawa woman succumbed to complications from Powassan virus she has struggled with since she was infected by a tick near her home in Alta Vista in 2021.

Ottawa Public Health spokesperson Emily Morrison says people should take precautions to avoid being bitten by ticks. There are many health benefits from being active and outdoors during warm weather, said Morrison, who is program manager of environmental health at Ottawa Public Health, “however, if you will be in outdoor areas suitable for black-legged ticks, it is important to be aware of the risks of ticks and tick-related diseases, and how to protect oneself.” Tick habitats include wooded areas and areas with tall grasses.

  • BedSharkPalOP
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    1 month ago

    I hate ticks - I hate them so much. Would be nice if we could vaccinate the deer or other disease reservoirs…

    I mean it’s that or we start released chickens into the wild!