Lyme disease cases almost triple
YARMOUTH — Confirmed and probable cases of Lyme disease in Nova Scotia nearly tripled in 2013 over the previous year.
The dramatic hike in numbers was not unexpected, said provincial Health and Wellness Department officials.
The number of cases, including probable ones, in 2013 was 155, department spokesman Tony Kiritsis said recently.
In 2012, the number of cases was 52, and in 2011, it was 57.
“There could be a lot of factors, but we do know that there’s been a lot more interest in Lyme, a lot more education out there,” Kiritsis said.
Since 2002, the number of Lyme disease cases in this province has totalled 329.
Dee Mombourquette, communicable diseases co-ordinator with the Health and Wellness Department, also said her department expected the increase.
“We know that people are much more aware of Lyme disease now. More (people) every year.”
People recognize symptoms and seek health-care advice sooner, she said. The first Lyme Disease Awareness Month began May 1 in Nova Scotia.
Climate studies have shown that Nova Scotia’s environment is suitable for tick establishment across the entire province.
“We’ve seen that ticks have arrived, and they like it here,” Mombourquette said. “The climate is certainly conducive to them increasing in numbers.”
Six endemic areas listed by the department include Yarmouth, Shelburne, Queens, Lunenburg, Halifax and Pictou counties.
The Queens County zone was proclaimed in 2012.
“We do anticipate that those areas will increase, but we don’t have any new (endemic) areas yet,” said Mombourquette.
Sixty-four per cent of reported Lyme disease cases have been from males.
It is not that ticks prefer men. Ticks are opportunistic parasites and it seems more men and boys are in the woods, for work or recreation, than females.
Ticks are active when temperatures rise above 4 C, but Lyme disease can show up at any time of the year.