• John Jantak

Senneville nature lovers advised to watch out for Black-Legged Ticks


JOHN JANTAK

The Morgan Arboretum in Ste. Anne de Bellevue is advising visitors to the nature reserve to take the necessary precautions to cover up exposed skin when walking on the nature trails to prevent being bitten by Black-Legged ticks which could result in possible exposure to Lyme disease

Senneville residents who enjoy venturing into lush green forested areas at the Morgan Arboretum in neighbouring Ste. Anne de Bellevue and in forested areas within the village were advised to check for signs of the BlackLegged Ticks or tick bites on themselves and on their pets after each nature trek. The advisory was made by Mayor Jane Guest during the Monday evening council meeting as part of an information campaign designed to raise awareness and sensitize the public about the serious health risks posed by Lyme disease which is passed onto humans from the bite of a Black-Legged Tick, also known as a Deer Tick.

Guest said council decided to make the announcement after a posting was seen on the Morgan Arboretum website that advises visitors to the popular nature reserve take precautions to avoid being bitten by the ticks. “It’s something that we want to sensitize our residents about,” said Guest. “Part of our green spaces straddles the arboretum so we want to our community to become aware of the situation. It’s a precautionary move. It’s not meant to be alarmist.”

Even though there have been no known human cases reported on the Island of Montreal, Lyme disease has made significant inroads into southern Quebec, particularly in the Montérégie region which includes Vaudreuil-Soulanges. “The West Island hasn’t been identified as a main problem area,” Morgan Arboretum Biologist Scott Pemberton told Your Local Journal. “There were 142 cases that were identified in Quebec last year, 76 of which were in the Montérégie.

Our neighbours have a big problem and it is becoming more prevalent in the West Island. As time moves on, it will become more of a problem here too.” Pemberton said the ticks that spread Lyme disease have been slowing making inroads into southern Quebec from the northeastern United States for almost eight years and have been moving northward an average of seven to 10 kilometers a year.

As the ticks adapt to their new environment, the possibility that humans on the West Island may contract Lyme disease from a tick bite in the future also increases, said Pemberton. People may be lulled into a false sense of security by assuming that most insects are no longer active in the cooler autumn months, but the Morgan Arboretum issued their advisory because ticks are most active in mid- to late-fall, and survive through the frost season until the first snow completely blankets the ground.

Taking simple preventive measures while hiking along the nature trails at the arboretum will ensure that hikers will not get bitten by a tick. Pemberton recommends that people pull their socks up to cover pant cuff s to prevent ticks from possibly latching onto exposed skin around the ankles. Using an insect repellant on clothing and on other exposed areas such as hands, face and neck; and wearing a hat is also advised.

Visitors should check exposed areas for bite marks after each trek through the nature trails, and especially if anyone ventures into the woods. Dog owners are also advised to check their pets for ticks. While the chances of being bitten are slim, the incidence of tick bites and Lyme disease continues to increase in southern Quebec. Pemberton said it’s best for people to become aware of situation and heed the warnings, just as many citizens do to avoid mosquito bites during the summer.

“It’s kind of a lightning strike kind of thing,” said Pemberton. “The percentages are low for being bitten, but you never know when you’re going to get it.” More information about BlackLegged Ticks, tick bite prevention and the proper procedure to remove a tick if bitten, is available at http://webpages.mcgill.ca/staff/Group4/agodbo/ web/Ticks_at_the_Morgan_Arboretum.pdf.

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