Suspected link between Lyme disease and climate change

On May 17th, the Georgian Bluffs Climate Action Team (GBCAT) hosted a virtual presentation about Lyme Disease and its connection to climate change.

Dr. Anne Uings, a retired medical doctor who has lived with Lyme Dis-ease for over 25 years and has researched it extensively, presented an in-depth look at the disease.

Over the years, she has also volunteered with the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, that is dedicated to promoting research, education, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme and associated dis-ease. Uings is also a member of ILADS – The International Lyme and Associated Dis-eases Society, for Professionals dealing with Lyme Disease.

Ann Schneider, co chair of GBCAT pointed out that, “There is a strong link between climate change and the increase in Lyme Disease carrying ticks in this area of Grey-Bruce.”

The presentation included information about ticks: different species, how to identify them, their life history, ways to prevent bites and also about the contrac-tion, symptoms and treatment of Lyme Disease.

In Ontario, on average, one in five black-legged ticks carry the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, that causes the lyme disease.  In areas eastern Ontario areas such as Kingston and Gananoque, up to 40 per cent of ticks carry the bacterium.

As people are encouraged to spend more time outdoors because of coronavirus, Lyme disease has become more of an issue in areas where there are woodlands.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include fatigue, fever, muscle and joint pain and a bullseye rash.

Among the protective measures that can be taken are:

  • Cover up with light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants that may make ticks easier to see
  •  Wear socks and closed footwear
  •  Check your body for ticks when you get home and shower or bathe after coming inside to wash away loose ticks and to check for attached ticks
  • also check for ticks on kids and pets.