More ticks and more Lyme disease in Canada’s future, experts say

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Tick season has begun across much of Canada, bringing with it the threat of Lyme disease.

Just a few decades ago, Lyme disease was pretty well unheard-of in Canada. But climate change and other factors have facilitated a growing number of cases in the last few years.

“It’s spreading geographically, so there’s more of Canada affected,” said Nick Ogden, a research scientist and director of the public health risk sciences division with the National Microbiology Laboratory. “But behind that, the seasons are longer, the numbers of ticks are increasing and the proportion that are infected is increasing.”

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There were 2,025 Lyme disease cases in Canada in 2017 – the latest year for which public data is available. This is a huge jump from the mere 144 cases reported in 2009.

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Health Canada did not provide updated Lyme disease numbers by print deadline, though Ogden said that there has been a general upward trend in the number of cases.

There are a number of reasons for this, he said, including greater awareness among patients and physicians, longer active seasons for ticks and more ticks in more places around Canada.

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