Beware of ticks when looking for real Christmas trees this year.
A post on Facebook by an Albertan animal clinic shows a tick in a tube, apparently transported into a home by a person after shopping for a live Christmas tree.
Although it is uncommon for ticks to be transported via Christmas trees, said the post by the Cochrane Animal Clinic, it goes on to say that ticks can be active at temperatures greater than 4 C and transfer from vegetation to hosts while completing their life cycle.
Jim Wilson, president of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, has heard stories himself about people coming into contact with ticks after cutting down a Christmas tree and that’s why, he says, it’s important to be tick aware.
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He says that anyone looking at getting a live Christmas tree is venturing out into tick habitat.
But, he says, the potential is more likely that ticks will attach themselves to the clothing you are wearing and not the Christmas tree.
Wilson says if you are an outdoors person by nature you can invest in clothing that are insect repellent. But for a quick trip to a farm to get a Christmas tree you can purchase a spray with an ingredient called icaridin in it.
He said with the warmer temperatures that his organization is anticipating a rise in tick populations right across the country.
And he wants people to know that no tick is a good tick. Lyme disease, he says, is one of several diseases a tick can carry.
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“It doesn’t matter what species it is. If it bites you it’s very likely carrying pathogens you don’t want,” he said.
One piece of advice he has for people looking at real trees this year is putting your clothing into the dryer immediately when you go home.
“Dryer for 15 minutes will kill any tick,” he said.
Dr. Adrian Walton, with the Dewdney Animal Hospital, says that while it is possible to transport a tick into your house from live Christmas tree shopping, it’s not common.
He said that ticks will not be in trees at this time of the year, but in warm pockets in the ground.
Walton says more worrisome are the needles that fall off the tree and the harm they can do to a pet if they are inhaled.
“They will have discharge and they will wind up having puss come out of their nose and you literally have to put a camera up there to grab the foreign body and pull it out,” said Walton.
The Maple Ridge veterinarian added that you can keep an eye out for bulls-eye rashes that appear on the skin when bitten by a tick.
However, he said, ticks are out 24/7 all winter long, so pet owners should be checking your dogs anyway.