Report a Badger

TICKS! By Wyatt Olsson & Ceryne Staples

It’s tick season! In some parts of BC, ticks can be found most months of the year, but in the spring, they are most active. This year appears to be particularly bad, with many people noticing an increase in ticks during their outdoor adventures.

Tick Species in BC

BC hosts over 20 tick species, with the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick (Dermacentor andersoni) and Western black-legged tick (lxodes pacificus) posing the highest disease risk. Thankfully, less than 1% of BC ticks carry Lyme disease, with only 1-14 reported cases annually from 2013-2022. Wood ticks also pose a paralysis risk if not promptly removed. Key concerns for human health in BC are lxodes and Dermacentor ticks, prevalent in different regions and capable of carrying diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Figure: Lyme Disease Risk Area Map. Areas that are not highlighted in red are unlikely to have ticks capable of carrying bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. Areas in red indicate where these ticks are known to or can potentially exist. Despite the known or potential presence of ticks in these areas, the risk of Lyme Disease in BC is low. (less that 0.5 cases per 100,000 population and 0.2% infection rate)
Ixodes Pacificus ( western black legged tick) reported areas map
Figure: Ixodes Pacificus (Western Black-Legged Tick) reported areas in BC between 2019 and 2024 (April). Four were reported from the Kamloops area (downtown, Valleyview; none from the North Thompson River valley.

Disease Transmission and Prevention

Tick bites can transmit various diseases, including Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and more. Contrary to popular belief, ticks aren’t easily detected like mosquito bites. They’ve evolved with sophisticated mechanisms that make them almost undetectable. Their saliva contains natural anesthetics and immune suppressors, ensuring hosts feel nothing when bitten. In June and July, watch out for nymphs (size of a poppy seed).
Prevention is key: opt for light-colored clothing and ensure long sleeves are tucked into pants, while pants are tucked into socks, apply bug spray, stay on trails, and thoroughly check for ticks after outdoor activities. Proper tick removal involves gently lifting it off with tweezers, cleaning the bite area, and seeking medical assistance if deeply embedded.

Symptom Awareness

After a tick bite, monitor for symptoms such as a bullseye-shaped skin rash, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue. Seek medical attention if any of these symptoms occur.

Reporting and Testing

You can have ticks identified and tested for diseases through various channels, including submitting photos to the great website, downloading the etick app, or seeking testing through healthcare providers or veterinarians (vets usually are very up-to-date with tick information!)