July 23, 2009
SAINT JOHN (CNB) - Public health officials in Saint John are undertaking a pilot research project to examine the link between a changing climate and the spread of black-legged ticks and Lyme disease.
The Saint John region is the only Atlantic Canadian site participating in the Public Health Agency of Canada project concerning the community adaptation element of the climate change infectious diseases adaptation initiative. The project, which has been awarded funding of $125,000, will proceed over the next 14-month period.
"This initiative will help us further understand the prevalence of Lyme disease, and raise local awareness and understanding about it to mitigate adverse health risks,"said Dr. Scott Giffin, regional medical officer of health.
The key areas the project will include:
Local information sessions will also be organized.
"There are indications that black-legged ticks and Lyme disease are spreading in eastern Canada, including New Brunswick," said Dr. Jacqueline Badcock, a zoonotic disease consultant at the Department of Health. "We are very pleased to have an opportunity to participate in this initiative, which should help us provide support to local communities on how to adapt to the spread of Lyme disease as the climate continues to change."
Last month, the Department of Health launched an awareness campaign to encourage the public to minimize the risk of exposure to Lyme disease. To protect against Lyme disease, New Brunswickers should:
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted to humans from an infected black-legged tick. The tick can only transmit the bacteria after it has been attached to the skin for 24 to 36 hours. The disease may be prevented by avoiding black-legged tick bites and removing attached ticks promptly and correctly. The disease is treatable with antibiotics.
In most cases, the first symptom of Lyme disease is a bull's-eye target rash near the tick bite. The rash usually appears seven-to-10 days after the bite, but the range is three-to-30 days.
Infected individuals may also develop flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, tiredness, stiff neck, all-over soreness, and joint pain or swelling. These symptoms may appear in stages, and occur over a period of months.
More information about Lyme disease, including instructions on safely removing ticks, is available on the Department of Health website .
MEDIA CONTACT: Sonya Gilks, communications, Department of Health, 506-453-2536.