Spring brings tick outbreaks that are of growing concern to public health experts, including one that may settle for good in Quebec in the coming years.
“We are closely monitoring the progress of the tick species,” says biologist Karine Thivierge, clinical manager of medical biology at the Quebec Public Health Laboratory.
In addition to the blacklegged tick that is well established in Quebec, there is a fear of the introduction of the American star tick, a species that transmits various bacteria responsible for diseases such as tularemia, which can cause skin, digestive or respiratory problems. Ehrlichiosis, an infection that causes fever, chills, muscle aches, and headache.
“Global warming favors species that we haven’t seen in Quebec in the past. Or if they were present, they didn’t pose a problem to human health,” said veterinarian Catherine Bouchard, epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency of Canada. telling.
she is coming
The stellar tick has been formally identified five times in southern Quebec (Dundee, Châteauguay, Candiac, Montreal and Saint-Roch de l’Achigan) in the past six years. According to E-Tick, a site that tracks insect sightings. According to Bishop’s University entomologist Jade Savage, the site’s creator, “she has a good chance of settling down nicely with us in the next few years.”
“The high number of white-tailed deer in southern Quebec is one of the factors that explain the spread of black-footed ticks, but the white-footed mouse is also involved. “For the starry ticks that are present in Quebec, they come from birds and dogs, in addition to the odd returning traveller,” Ms.Me Uncultured.
In the center of one of the worst-affected areas of Quebec, Astri, Ms. Savage felt the need to create a site to answer questions from people who have been bitten by ticks or who have pets.
Dr. Bouchard was the first veterinarian in Quebec to study the black-legged tick, which was responsible for the transmission of Lyme disease.
In early 2007, she dedicated her master’s studies to this species of arthropod, which carries bacteria and viruses by sucking the blood of mammals. He has published a map of the risks of Lyme disease infection in Astri with a colleague from the University of Montreal.
MMe Thivirge recalls that there are 12 species of ticks in southern Quebec and only a few of them can cause public health problems. In addition, 1% to 2% of individuals may have the pathogen. This does not prevent clusters of cases from appearing, such as in 2021 in Astri when 25 patients were diagnosed with anaplasmosis.
four worrying ticks
Starry Black Tick (amblyoma americanus)
Meat causes allergies.
– Not yet established in Quebec but seen frequently in New England. Has been identified in southern Quebec but has probably been carried by birds or humans from infected areas.
Blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis)
– Causes Lyme disease and anaplasmosis.
– Established and abundant in Quebec, from the southern borders to Gaspary.
Closely monitored by public health agencies.
groundhog tick (Ixodes Cook)
Similar to the blacklegged tick, the groundhog tick can cause severe encephalitis. Five cases were reported in Quebec between 2004 and 2014.
Occurs occasionally from southern Quebec to Val-d’Or and Percy. Well established between Montreal and Quebec in Monteregi and Astri.
American dog tick (dermacenter variable)
– According to INSPQ, a recent study suggests the presence of this species in southern Quebec, without specifying locations.
– Can carry diseases but documented cases are rare.
What to do in case of bite?
- Remove the tick using a tick puller or fine tweezers.
- Officials recommend placing the tick in an airtight container, such as a pill container, and putting it in the refrigerator. Ticks can be useful in case you need to see a doctor.
- Wash your hands.