New bacteria that causes illness similar to Lyme disease found in BC ticks

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Three ticks found in BC have tested positive for a type of bacteria known to cause something similar to Lyme disease, including two in the Lower Mainland.

The BC Centre for Disease control issued the warning so you can take steps to protect yourself from ticks.

The two ticks locally were found on dogs while the third was found on a child in the Central Interior. Neither the child nor the dogs developed symptoms. The ticks were spotted over the summer.

Dr. Eleni Galanis with the BCCDC says the symptoms brought on by this newly-discovered bacteria are similar to what you see with Lyme disease.

“People who develop tradition Lyme disease will have a rash right at the point where the tick is attached as well as fever, headache and just generally feeling unwell. With this disease, the disease caused by this new bacterial species, people have had higher fevers, they’ve also shown a more diffuse rash, so a rash which covers a greater part of the body, as well as they’ve shown more upset stomach and vomiting than traditional Lyme.”

The bacteria in question is closely related to Borelia mayonii. It has only been found in the American Midwest. The BCCDC says Lyme disease in this province is usually caused by Borrelia burgdorferi.

These three ticks carrying the bacteria are the first to be found in Canada. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention six of the 9,000 samples tested picked up B. mayonii.

The Public Health Agency of Canada and the BCCDC have tested and retested over 20,000 ticks and found the three confirmed cases.

Dr. Galanis wants you to check yourself for ticks if you’ve been out in the woods and save them if you find them.

“I think it’s important that people, l if they are bitten by ticks that they remove them as quickly as possible and they can take them to their doctor, particularly if they develop symptoms, so they can be diagnosed and treated. The ticks can also be sent to our laboratory for testing to see whether or not they carry either the bacteria that causes Lyme or this closely resembling new species.”

She recommends you protect yourself by wearing long pants if you’re walking through long grasses or bushy areas.

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