Species of Lyme disease-causing bacteria found in three B.C. ticks - InfoNews

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Species of Lyme disease-causing bacteria found in three B.C. ticks

Two kinds of ticks are responsible for Lyme infection in B.C., Ixodes Pacificus, (Cooley and Kohis), and Ixodes Angustus (Neumann).
Image Credit: Contributed/B.C. Centre for Disease Control
November 08, 2016 - 11:30 AM

VANCOUVER - The provincial government has issued a warning that a new species of bacteria has been found in B.C. and it can cause Lyme disease.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control says since June three ticks have been found with a recently discovered strain of bacteria called Borrelia mayonii, which can cause Lyme disease in humans. The specific species had not been found in B.C. previously, but a similar species had been seen in the midwestern U.S.

Dr. Eleni Galanis with the Centre for Disease Control says in a media release the government is keeping an eye on the situation, but there is no great risk right now.

“While further investigation is warranted, the health threat posed by this new species of bacteria is extremely low,” Galanis says in the release.

The species found in B.C. is slightly different than the American strain. There are no signs any humans have contracted lyme disease from it.

One of the three ticks was found on a child who had been in Central B.C. The other two were removed from dogs in the Lower Mainland. All three are healthy and show no signs of Lyme disease, which affects dogs and humans, but the ticks that bit them all tested positive for the new strain of bacteria.

Only one type of tick species has been shown to carry the new bacteria species. That tick most commonly bites rodents and rabbits, though it does bite cats and dogs and will occasionally bite humans. Of nearly 22,000 ticks tested by government laboratories only three have been found with the new strain of bacteria.

Typically ticks carrying Lyme disease are found in Southern B.C., particularly the southwest and southeast.

While the Centre for Disease Control is making the public aware of the new strain, the organization is reminding people that less than one per cent of ticks tested carry a strain of Lyme disease causing bacteria.

Tips to protect yourself from ticks can be found here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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