By Jamie Komarnicki, Calgary Herald May 20, 2014 7:28 PM
With the number of confirmed Lyme disease cases rising in Alberta, the provincial government is going into the field for the first time to try to get a handle on whether the ticks that can transmit the bacteria to humans are surviving through the winter.
Alberta Health is also steaming forward with a program launched last year that asks residents to send in ticks plucked from their skin for analysis.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. James Talbot, said it’s too soon to say whether the blacklegged ticks that can carry the Lyme disease bacteria are established in Alberta. As part of a pilot project, last week Alberta Health tested a number of locations near Edmonton for signs of nymphs, or young ticks, Talbot said.
A juvenile form would indicate the blacklegged ticks survived the winter, rather than arriving in Alberta from elsewhere — a warning sign for the province, said Talbot.
The results of the project are expected later this summer. The “submit-a-tick” program, launched last year, is also expected to provide tick surveillance information.