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Avoiding deer and Lyme Disease

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

June 15, 2011 — While it can be tempting to feed friendly deer in your area, health officials recommend avoiding contact.

As tempting as it is, try to avoid feeding deer
As tempting as it is, try to avoid feeding deer

After a harsh winter across the Maritimes, the deer population dropped off by about 14 percent. But as we sprung into the spring season, more and more deer have been popping up in residential areas.

And while most people love to see the furry animals up close, officials advise to stay away.

“In and around certain urban areas it actually looks like there is more because deer are congregating more and people are feeding them,” says Rod Cumberland with the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources. “They shouldn't be feeding them.”

Cumberland adds that feeding the deer is not only bad for their health, but for your own health as well. Deer carry the black legged tick, which is an insect that can transmit Lyme Disease.

Black legged ticks carry Lyme Disease
Black legged ticks carry Lyme Disease

Dr. Alexander Doroshenko, Medical Officer of Health in New Brunswick says the tick can also feed on humans, which means the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease is transferable.

Often, people don't realize that they've been bitten until flu like symptoms develop. A bulls eye looking rash is another common sign that someone has been bitten.

Although the disease is treatable, conditions can worsen over time. As a result, health officials recommend that people avoid contact with deer and other rodents that carry the tick.

“It's not that people cannot enjoy some outdoor activities, they just need to take special precautions when they go there,” says Dr. Doroshenko.

“When they use the trails stay in the middle of the trails and avoid going into the areas where the tall grasses are so you can avoid coming into contact with the black legged tick.”

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