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Province identifies new, expanding Lyme disease risk areas
Dr. Karen Robinson, Interlake-Eastern RHA’s medical officer of health, advises all residents to take precautions to minimize the risk of encountering black legged ticks when in known Lyme disease risk areas and when in habitats like forest edges and areas with thick, woody shrubs and other vegetation where blacklegged ticks are typically found.

Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors advises that new and expanding Lyme disease risk areas have been identified in the province through the 2013 blacklegged tick active surveillance program. Blacklegged ticks are active from early spring through late fall and the smaller nymphs, which are difficult to see, are most abundant during late spring and summer. The risk of Lyme disease transmission is greatest where blacklegged ticks are most commonly found.

Previously identified and/or expanded Lyme disease risk areas include:

* the southeast corner of the province, where the border meets Ontario and Minnesota, which extends north into Moose Lake Provincial Park and now west to Sprague;

* the Pembina Valley region, which stretches from the international border at the provincial park of the same name to the Rural Municipality of South Norfolk in the north and Killarney in the west and this risk area includes portions of the Pembina Valley and escarpment (near Morden and Miami);

* the Assiniboine corridor, which now extends west from the Beaudry Provincial Park along the Assiniboine River, and some of its tributaries such as the Souris River, as far as the Spruce Woods Provincial Park and the Brandon Hills Wildlife Management Area;

* the St. Malo region, which extends from the communities of Vita and Arbakka near the U.S. border, north through the communities of Roseau River, Kleefeld and St. Malo including the St. Malo Provincial Park; and

* the Richer/Ste. Genevieve area, located east of Winnipeg along the Agassiz and Sandilands provincial forests, which now extends southwards to Ste. Anne and north into the Birds Hill Provincial Park.

Newly identified Lyme disease risk areas include:

* the southern lakes area, which consists of two isolated risk areas, one located on the southeast shore of Lake Manitoba (in the St. Ambroise Provincial Park) and the other along the southeast shore of Lake Winnipeg (in the Patricia Beach Provincial Park); and

* the southeast Winnipeg area, which consists of isolated pockets along the Red and Seine river corridors.

In Lyme disease risk areas and elsewhere, blacklegged ticks are most commonly found within and along the edge of forests and in areas with thick, woody shrubs and other vegetation.

Blacklegged ticks can also be found in other areas of Manitoba, but the risk of Lyme disease is relatively low outside of the risk areas.

Manitobans are encouraged to take precautions to minimize their risk of tick exposure by:

* applying an appropriate tick repellent, following label directions, on exposed skin and clothing;

* inspecting themselves, children and pets after spending time outdoors;

* removing ticks as soon as possible from people and pets;

* staying to the centre of walking trails;

* wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts; and

* keeping grass and shrubs around homes cut short to create drier environments that are less suitable for blacklegged tick survival.

Since Lyme disease became nationally reportable in 2009, 80 confirmed or probable cases have been reported to Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors. Twenty-nine of these cases were reported in 2013.

Symptoms of Lyme disease can start about three days to one month after a tick bite, often with an expanding rash which then fades. Early symptoms can also include headache, stiff neck, muscle aches or fatigue, fever, chills and swollen lymph nodes. Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics and treatment is most successful in the early stages of infection. People who think they may have Lyme disease should see their doctor. For more information, they may also contact Health Links–Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or 1 888 315-9257 (toll-free).

View the updated map showing Lyme disease risk areas.
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