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Warm weather bringing ticks to Manitoba earlier than usual

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Following a mild winter with very little snow cover, experts say Winnipeg will see some critters coming out of hibernation earlier than usual, including ticks.

Kateryn Rochon, an associate professor in the University of Manitoba’s Department of Entomology, said researchers received a report of a blacklegged tick about a week earlier than usual in Manitoba.

“From year to year, it really all depends,” she said in an interview with CTV Morning Live on Friday.

“If it’s warm and there’s no more snow, you’re going to have ticks.”

In order to stay safe, Rochon recommends finding ways to keep ticks away from your skin. This includes wearing your socks pulled over your pants and tucking in your shirt.

If you do get bitten by a tick, Rochon suggests using tweezers to remove the tick.

“Go as close to the skin as possible. You grab onto the tick and then you pull up,” she said.

“That’s it, you just pull up. You don’t jerk, you don’t twist.”

Rochon noted that not all ticks are infected, so getting a tick bite does not necessarily mean you will get sick.

For those who do spot a tick, Rochon recommends reporting the sighting to etick.ca in order to help determine what type of tick it is. The website also helps researchers track what people find and where.

“You take pictures, you upload the pictures and we’ll tell you if it’s a blacklegged tick or not,” she said.

“If it is a blacklegged tick, we can give you information.”

Difference in ticks

Rochon explained that blacklegged ticks and wood ticks are different species.

She said if blacklegged ticks are infected with a pathogen, they can transmit it to humans. Wood ticks, however, which are common in Manitoba, do not transmit Lyme disease or anaplasmosis to humans.

She said they also look different, as wood ticks are reddish brown in colour with some patterning on the back, while blacklegged ticks are smaller and dark brown in colour.

Rochon added that blacklegged ticks have been in Manitoba for about 20 years, and can most commonly be found in the areas south of Dauphin.

- With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagace.

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