Albertans Advised To Take Precautions Against Lyme Disease

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Lyme Disease

With the recent identification of ticks carrying Lyme disease in the Edmonton area, Albertans advised that there is a possibility the ticks that carry Lyme disease are now established in Alberta and to take precautions to avoid tick bites.

Previous surveillance has not provided evidence in Alberta of the particular species of tick (Ixodes pacificus) known to carry Lyme disease. Recently, 10 specimens collected from dogs by veterinarians have been identified as I. pacificus, and two of those were infected with the bacterium which causes Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi). No human cases have been identified in Alberta in 2007.

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Lyme disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics. A full recovery is more likely when treatment begins in the early stages of the disease. Undiagnosed Lyme disease may develop into chronic illness that can be difficult to treat.

The first sign of infection is often a circular rash. This rash occurs in about 70-80 per cent of infected people and begins at the site of the tick bite after a delay of three days to one month. Additional symptoms may include fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. If untreated, the disease progresses into more serious symptoms which can last several months - including migraines, weakness, multiple skin rashes, painful or stiff joints, abnormal heartbeat and extreme fatigue. If the disease continues to progress, symptoms such as chronic arthritis and neurological symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, numbness, and paralysis can result. Lyme disease is rarely fatal. However, if contracted during pregnancy, Lyme disease can pose serious health risks to the baby, including stillbirth.

The greatest chance for people to become infected is when they walk through brush and tall grass in spring and summer when ticks are most active. Here are some precautions you can take:

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