Manitoba health officials reported Friday that the geographic reach of the black-legged tick in the province, increasing the risk for diseases like anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Lyme disease.

The annual blacklegged tick surveillance program has identified a number of new and expanded Lyme disease risk areas northward and westward in the province.

With its abdomen engorged with a host blood meal, this image depicts a lateral, or side view of a female blacklegged, or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis/CDC

While blacklegged ticks can be found outside of these Lyme disease risk areas, the risk of tick-borne disease transmission is lower.

In Lyme disease risk areas and elsewhere, blacklegged ticks are most commonly found within and along the edge of forests and in areas with thick, woody shrubs and other vegetation.

Limiting exposure to potentially infected blacklegged ticks is the key to tick-borne disease prevention. Manitobans are encouraged to take precautions to minimize their risk of tick exposure by:

  • applying an appropriate tick-repellent, following label directions, on exposed skin and clothing;
  • inspecting themselves, children and pets after spending time outdoors;
  • removing ticks as soon as possible from people and pets;
  • staying to the center of walking trails;
  • wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts; and
  • keeping grass and shrubs around homes cut short to create drier environments that are less suitable for blacklegged tick survival.

Symptoms of Anaplasmosis can start seven to 10 days after a tick bite and may include fever, chills, headache, joint aches, nausea and vomiting, often in association with blood abnormalities and/or liver abnormalities. Anaplasmosis can be successfully treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms of Babesiosis can start one to six weeks after a tick bite and may include non-specific
flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea or fatigue. Babesiosis can be successfully treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms of Lyme disease can start about three days to one month after a tick bite, often with an expanding rash which then fades. Early symptoms can also include headache, stiff neck, muscle aches or fatigue, fever, chills and swollen lymph nodes. Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics and treatment is most successful in the early stages of infection.

To date, 11 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in 2015.