Public asked to submit ticks to help with health study
Health PEI is asking members of the public to submit samples of biting ticks for a study tracking the human risk of tick-borne illness on Prince Edward Island.
Dr. Greg German, Health PEI medical microbiologist, said the laboratory he works at receives about 80 ticks a year from family and emergency room doctors but he wants to get more, especially the smaller sized ticks which can be the size of a poppy seed.
“Studies from diagnostic laboratories can help us better understand our risk and improve prevention information to the public about checking for ticks. We are currently considered low risk for Lyme disease in PEI, but we want more confidence in that rating,” German said.
Islanders can bring ticks to any Health PEI laboratory for analysis if they were directly attached to a human. Laboratory locations and hours are listed at Laboratory Services. Tick collection kits are also available at these locations.
Any black legged ticks will be sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory to be screened for pathogens such as those that cause Lyme disease and other tick borne diseases.
This analysis will not replace testing of those patients who show symptoms of a tick borne illness or those who have health concerns due to a tick bite.
PEI Chief Public Health Office reminds Islanders of the following safety tips to help reduce risk of tick bites, infection and Lyme disease:
- check yourself, and your family, after being in an area where ticks may be present;
- walk in the centre of trails to avoid grass, brush, or shrubs;
- tuck pant legs into boots or socks;
- wear light-colored clothing to avoid attracting the attention of a tick;
- use an insect repellent such as DEET (for persons 6 months or older);
- shower after being in an area where ticks are present (can cause them to detach before they firmly attach;
- remove any ticks attached to skin quickly and safely (Lyme Disease is unlikely if you remove a tick within 24-36 hours);
- to remove, use tweezers, grasp the tick close to the skin and pull upwards;
- see a doctor is flu-like symptoms or a rash develop;
- submit ticks to a PEI lab for analysis using tick collection kit;
- be aware of the risk of ticks carrying Lyme disease when visiting other parts of Canada and the United States.
For more information on Lyme disease, visit Lyme disease in PEI.
Senior Communications Officer