Tick season in full effect as warmer weather sticks around

The weather is finally starting to feel more like spring and the province has seen warmer temperatures in the last week.

While this is good news for those who have been wanting to get outside more, they are being reminded to watch out for ticks, as they too come out in the warmer weather.

"Tick season, believe it or not, actually begins in our area as soon as we’re anywhere near four Celsius and above," said Dr. Ron Worb, a veterinarian at the Anderson Animal Hospital.

He said usually deer ticks – otherwise known as blacklegged ticks, which can carry Lyme disease – start to pop up around March, with this winter being the exception due to the temperature and the amount of snow in Manitoba.

"Now that we've got some of this real spring-like weather, they are very hungry, they're going to be looking for meals."

A spokesperson for the province said tick activity in April was down compared to last year. There were only two submissions to its eTick application in April 2022, compared to 81 in April 2021.

"With warmer weather we are now starting to see an increase in tick activity," the province said.

Worb said all different kinds of ticks are looking for meals from humans as well as our pets.

An infected tick can spread a disease after 24 to 48 hours of feeding.

He said people can make sure their pets are safe through medication.

"We recommend we start under most normal spring seasons, April 1 right until Nov. 1," said Worb.

He said ticks like to hang out in areas with tall grass, bush and leaf litter. If animals go through those areas, Worb said people should do tick checks on their pets and on themselves as well.

"Places that ticks like to hang out on our pets are usually where there is soft, supple skin. Under the ears, under the lips, on the eyelids, on the groin area, on the armpit."

If a tick is found, Worb suggests people grab a pair of tweezers, grab the tick at the very base of the skin and pull it straight up.

"You don't want to squish the body and you definitely don't want to use your fingers."

The province said the majority of exposure to Lyme disease happens between May and July, but people should be vigilant until winter.

"Since 2012, more than 80 per cent of Lyme disease exposure has occurred between May and July. However, it needs to be cautioned that exposures have occurred whenever blacklegged ticks are active," the spokesperson said.