Lyme Disease and Beyond: 5 Ways Ticks Make You Sick
These are the tick-borne illnesses you can contract in Canada. Find out which symptoms to watch out for.
1. Lyme disease
This is an inflammatory condition caused by strains of Borrelia bacteria, carried by blacklegged ticks. It’s the most common tick-related illness, and it often comes with a rash, as well as fever, nausea and muscle and joint pain. Remember: ticks may thrive in deciduous forests but populations are spreading to more urban settings. To find out if Lyme disease-carrying ticks live near you, visit this Health Canada website to track problem areas listed by province.
Carried by blacklegged ticks, this illness is caused by the microscopic parasite Babesia microti. The parasite infects red blood cells, causing fevers, chills, headaches and fatigue. More severe cases can lead to jaundice, anemia and shortness of breath. How big is a tick? A youngster is the size of a poppyseed; a male, the equivalent of a sesame seed; a female measures up to a flaxseed. After they’ve fed, they get significantly larger. CanLyme offers some helpful charts to identify ticks.
4. Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Transmitted by an infected American dog tick or Rocky Mountain wood tick, this illness, luckily, has been mostly confined to the southern U.S. It typically shows up with a fever, headache, nausea and then a rash.
This tick-borne virus that can be transmitted by the blacklegged tick but is extremely rare—only 21 cases have ever been reported in Canada. Some people don’t develop any symptoms; others have a fever, headache, vomiting or even inflammation of the brain and meningitis.
Found a tick—or worried you might soon? Here are the dos and don’ts for safe tick removal.