Heads up – wood ticks are out and about in the Thompson
Tick season is back in the Okanagan.
Colin Kennedy came across one of the blood-suckers while taking a walk with his dog.
Kennedy was on the Test of Humanity Trail in Summerland last week and came home with an unwanted passenger – a wood tick.
“I just thought it would be good to report it so people start checking their dogs for ticks now that the weather is getting better,” Kennedy says.
Kennedy also reported the tick to eTick.
Anyone who has lived in the B.C. Interior for any length of time has likely had an encounter with a tick or knows someone who has.
They can be found year round, but are most likely to bite from March to June.
Ticks will lie in wait on a branch or tall grass, waiting for an unsuspecting person or animal to brush by. They then latch onto their victim and bury their heads under the skin.
Staying out of the woods is no guarantee you won’t encounter ticks.
Rob Higgins, an entomologist with the department of biological sciences at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, says the most common area to find ticks is on grasslands, but they can be found in urban environments as well.
“You can definitely pick them up in town, even when you think you’re walking in urban areas, because you’re brushing up against grasses on the side of the sidewalks,” he said.
If a tick has bitten you, Higgins says the best way to remove it is to take a pair of forceps or tweezers, slide them under the tick and pull backwards firmly – but not abruptly.
It will often take about 30 seconds of firm pressure to pull the tick out.
The variety most often found in B.C. is the Rocky Mountain wood tick.
Western black legged ticks, a species which Higgins said exists in low numbers in B.C., can carry Lyme disease. Each year, there are around a dozen Lyme cases discovered in the province, but about half those originate from outside the region.
Ticks can also carry other diseases, such as tick paralysis. According to Higgins, this disease mostly affects animals and he said vets and ranchers see cases each year.
Overall, it’s important to be careful, but most ticks in B.C. aren’t harmful.
“People don’t like ticks, fortunately here we don’t need to worry about them a great deal,” he said.
“You definitely want to remove them, you want to keep your eyes on your pets for symptoms of paralysis, but otherwise, we can consider the vast majority of them to be harmless.”
Have you had a close encounter of the insect kind? Email us a picture and we may feature it as Castanet’s Bug of the Week.
Women More Likely to Suffer Adverse Mental Health Effects After Stroke: Report
A new report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation shows that women are more likely to suffer adverse mental health effects after a stroke, and that services and supports are lacking.
The report, Stroke and Mental Health: The Invisible and Inequitable Effects on Women, was released on Thursday.
Dr. Clair Barefoot, clinical psychologist at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre, says recovering from a stroke can take a big toll on people.
That, coupled with the additional roles women often take on—such as caring for children, can cause additional strain and force them to leave rehab early.
Barefoot says supports and services are generally lacking across Canada.
She says it is quite difficult and expensive for people to find personalized care, so she would like to see more psychologists in hospitals and more funding for the private sector so that people can access more of those services after they’re discharged.
Grail says over 400 patients incorrectly informed they may have cancer
Cancer test maker Grail Inc said on Friday that its telemedicine vendor erroneously sent letters to about 400 patients suggesting they may have developed cancer.
Grail’s flagship cancer detection blood test Galleri is designed to detect more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear.
The company, owned by Illumina Inc, ILMN-Q said the letters were mistakenly sent by PWNHealth due to a software issue and that it “was in no way related to or caused by an incorrect Galleri test result”.
Grail said it had reached out to the patients immediately after the issue, adding that no patient health information has been disclosed or breached due to this.
The software issue being faced by PWNHealth has now been resolved, it said.
Illumina is currently appealing regulatory orders in the U.S. and EU, which are asking the gene sequencing company to divest Grail after it jumped regulators to close its acquisition of the cancer test maker.
Rates of infectious sexual diseases on the decline in region – CambridgeToday
Unprotected sex with more than one partner in a six month period is the biggest risk factor behind a recent rise in syphilis cases in Waterloo region, according to a report on infectious disease trends from Region of Waterloo Public Health.
The annual infectious diseases surveillance report gathers and analyzes information on the infectious diseases that physicians, laboratories and hospitals are required to report to the region’s public health unit in line with Ontario Public Health Standards.
Infectious diseases are illnesses caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that have the potential to cause serious illness and outbreaks.
There were 116 reports of infectious syphilis in the region last year, a rate of 17.8 per 100,000 population compared to 23.1 across the province. The number is down from a high of 143 reported cases in 2021, and a rate of 22.2 per 100,000 that was higher than the provincial average of 20.6.
The report says rates of syphilis, while lower than the province, have increased substantially in recent years, especially among females. This trend has also been observed in the province, which suggests a shift in epidemiology and sexual health practices.
The most common sexually transmitted infections in Waterloo Region continue to be chlamydia and gonorrhea.
There were 1,388 cases of chlamydia reported across the region last year, a rate of 192.8 per 100,000 population compared to 255.9 provincially. That’s down slightly from the age-standardized rate of 196.9 per 100,000 reported in 2021.
Gonorrhea case counts continued to spike across the province in 2022, while experiencing a slight decline in the rate of infection in Waterloo region.
Waterloo region reported 266 cases last year, a rate of 38.2 per 100,000. That’s compared to 77.5 per 100,000 province-wide.
Across the board, the demographic with the highest number of cases of sexually transmitted infections locally and across the province is the 20 to 29 age group.
Mpox, previously known as monkeypox, was declared a disease of global public health concern and became a newly reportable disease in Ontario in 2022.
There were only four local cases of mpox last year. Public Health says it has been monitoring the situation, working with health care providers to provide up-todate treatment guidance, and providing mpox vaccines to high-risk individuals.
The mpox virus is most commonly spread to people through close, physical contact with an infected person.
Campylobacter enteritis and salmonellosis were the most common enteric diseases in Waterloo Region in 2022. The local rates for enteric diseases were similar to or lower than those of the province.
Risk factors for enteric illnesses such as Campylobacter enteritis and salmonellosis include consuming undercooked meats and unpasteurized dairy products, ingesting contaminated food or water, and contact with infected persons.
Rates of vaccine preventable diseases in Waterloo Region were similar to those of the province. The most common vaccine preventable diseases in Waterloo Region were pneumococcal disease and pertussis (whooping cough).
In 2022, as we returned to normal activities, we saw a return of circulating respiratory viruses including pertussis with rates higher than had been seen during the first two years of the pandemic.
Public Health says immunization is the best way to prevent whooping cough. Pneumococcal vaccine is also recommended for infants, older adults 65 years and older, and those at high risk from the infection.
Region of Waterloo Public Health undertakes a number of activities to prevent or reduce the burden of infectious diseases in the community.
Programs and services include case management, contacts and exposures for diseases of public health significance; inspections, investigations and outbreak management, including community outbreaks and those in institutions; health promotion activities and services for primary care providers, emergency service workers, childcare providers, and other community groups; and clinic-based services for sexual health, immunization, and tuberculosis screening and management.
Region of Waterloo Public Health says it will provide highlights of respiratory disease trends, including influenza, in a report to council this fall.
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