Experts say there is a common misconception that you can’t get Lyme disease in the winter because people believe ticks are no longer active.
Andrew Hebda, a zoologist at the Nova Scotia Museum, said he’s receiving about 150 ticks every week from medical offices across the province for identification.
He said more than half the ticks he’s seeing now have fed or completely fed, which means they were likely on the person for more than 24 hours.
While the general rule is that ticks are active above 4 C, Hebda said there can be warmer pockets of ground that will allow ticks to be active even in cooler temperatures.
He said, “They’re active all winter. We’ve got ticks being brought in every month of the year.”
“Every season is tick season.”
Donna Lugar, the Nova Scotia representative for the advocacy group the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation said, “We have this false sense that once it’s getting cold, that we’re safe. But that’s no longer the case.”
She added, “Even after snow, even after a cold snap, if the temperature does go up, [blacklegged ticks] can be active.”
Lugar, who has Lyme disease, said she is being contacted increasingly by people who’ve contracted the disease in the middle of winter.
She said that the risk of misdiagnosis is also greater in the winter because it’s flu season and since the symptoms of Lyme disease can appear flu-like, people might think they’ve caught influenza when they’ve been bitten by a tick that carries Lyme disease.