FREDERICTON (GNB) – During Lyme Disease Awareness Month, New Brunswickers are reminded to take steps to protect themselves against Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is an illness caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, and is spread to people by the bites of infected blacklegged ticks. 

“Protecting yourself against Lyme disease is important if you work, live or visit areas where tick populations are present,” said acting chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell. “I encourage New Brunswickers to be aware and take precautions while enjoying the outdoors to reduce their exposure to Lyme disease.”

Although it is possible to be bitten by an infected tick anywhere in the province, the risk is highest in areas where tick populations are established, including:

  • Grand Manan
  • Grand Bay-Westfield, Saint John, Rothesay, and Quispamsis
  • St. Stephen, Saint Andrews and St. George

“From our monitoring, we have seen that blacklegged ticks are spreading from areas with established tick populations in southern New Brunswick, and are becoming established in nearby areas,” said Russell. “These areas represent a higher risk.” 

The risk of a blacklegged tick bite starts in the spring and continues during the summer months and through the fall when the temperature goes below freezing. 

In most cases, the first symptom is a rash near the tick bite that may look like a bull's-eye target. Infected people may also develop flu-like symptoms. The disease is treatable with antibiotics, and early treatment almost always results in full recovery.

New Brunswickers should take precautions to minimize their risk of exposure:

  • Prevent tick bites by avoiding direct contact with ticks, using insect repellents containing DEET or Icaradin, and wearing protective clothing.
  • After spending time outdoors, check your body, gear and pets for ticks.
  • If you are bitten by a tick, look for the early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease. See a health-care practitioner if, within 30 days of removing a tick, you develop a bull’s-eye target rash or flu-like symptoms.
  • Reduce ticks in your yard by removing leaves and brush, and keeping grass mowed.

More information on Lyme disease is available online.