May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

May 26, 2022

By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist at Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and tick season is here so it is good reminder tick-borne diseases are preventable, including lyme disease. Unfortunately, lyme disease is becoming more common in southern Manitoba including the Parkland area.

Lyme disease is already the most common vector-borne disease in the United States and this health concern is slowly migrating north. Lyme is caused by a bacterium, transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Symptoms vary widely, but typically include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash. If left untreated, infection can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system.

Manitoba Health recommends people contact their physician or a walk-in doctor to receive antibiotics within 72 hours of a high-risk tick bite. A high-risk tick bite consists of:

-a tick bite identified as a blacklegged tick

-it was attached for a minimum of 36 hours, or the tick was engorged when attached

-the tick was from south of the 53rd parallel or from another high-risk area known for lyme disease.

Diagnosis occurs based on symptoms, physical findings and confirmed exposure to infected ticks. Lab testing is not perfect but is helpful in confirming diagnosis. Most positive cases of lyme disease with a few weeks of diagnosis, but again results vary widely. For some lyme disease can be extremely debilitating with long lasting symptoms interfering with daily living. The best way to deal with lyme disease is to prevent it.

If you need to get in touch with a doctor, please call the Dauphin Medical Clinic walk-in at 204-638-6445. Unfortunately, a pharmacist cannot prescribe anti-biotics for this reason yet, but if we want to reduce Lyme Diseases cases in the future, this is something the Manitoba Government must consider.

Blacklegged ticks are known to carry Lyme disease. They can be found in the back 40, in an urban area or in your back yard. Most commonly they are found in trees areas or areas with long grass. While they peak in the spring and fall, they can be found anytime temperatures are warm enough for an insect to survive.

Risk of lyme exposure is decreased by reducing your exposure to ticks in general. You can apply an appropriate tick repellent on exposed skin and clothing, following the instructions on the container. Ensure you are wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Tucking pants inside the socks or inside hiking boots will help keep ticks on the exterior of your clothing. If you are on the trails, stay in the center of them as ticks hang on leaves and on long grasses. After spending time outdoors inspect yourself and especially children. Remove ticks as soon as possible from people and pets. Pets can also be treated with a preventative medication to discourage ticks from attaching to the skin, so talk to your veterinarian for options. Keep grass and shrubs around homes cut short to create drier environments that are less suitable for blacklegged tick survival. This is obviously much less practical for those who live in rural areas.

It is crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms of lyme disease. A list of symptoms and other important information can be found on the Government of Manitoba website at Always contact your physician if you have a rash from a tick bite or are showing symptoms of Lyme disease.


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