Spring, and tick season, is in full swing.
The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation is raising awareness this month and is hoping you will give some thought to the spread of Lyme disease and the ticks that carry it.
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans by a bite from an infected black-legged or deer tick. The tick becomes infected after feeding on infected deer, birds, or mice.
According to the BCCDC, unlike in eastern Canada, the rate of Lyme disease has remained low in B.C. and the infection is preventable by avoiding tick bites and removing attached ticks early. However early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment are important because Lyme disease can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
Lyme disease is a rare tick-borne infection that is commonly misdiagnosed or disregarded. It affects roughly 1,500 Canadians each year but cases are skyrocketing, with just 144 instances reported in 2009 and over 2,600 in 2019.
A study by the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention shows that estimates of Lyme disease infection have increased to 476,000 people per year, easily making Lyme the most prevalent vector-borne disease in North America.
A private laboratory in Ontario called Geneticks is now offering a first-of-its-kind interactive map outlining data such as infection prevalence, seasonal tick activity, and regional species composition.
"The Geneticks Statistics Center is a public resource designed to provide user-friendly access to tick and tick-borne data collected throughout Canada," said Justin Wood, CEO Geneticks.
Wood unveiled his interactive tick tracking service on the CanLyme sponsored podcast, Looking at Lyme. Host Sarah Cormode contracted Lyme disease a decade ago in Victoria and has been speaking with the world's leading Lyme disease experts on the CanLyme podcast.
"It's been a real educational journey for me talking to people all over the world about Lyme disease and treatment," says Cormode. "We're just getting a handle how fast Lyme is spreading and the Geneticks statistic center is a tremendous help."