A Toronto woman is warning people to check for ticks after finding several on herself and two dogs last week.
Michelle Snider, who lives in the Long Branch neighborhood south of Etobicoke, said she has shot between 25 and 30 of her two dogs, Juju and Heavy D, and herself in the past seven days.
“My experience was horrific and nightmarish,” Snider said Wednesday.
“They invaded my garden. They invaded my house. It’s a health issue for my dogs and me. Honestly, I’m living in hell.”
Snider said she was bitten by two ticks last year and saw a few on her dogs two years ago. But this year, she says she has been bitten by five, all dog ticks, in the past week. Three years ago, she said she didn’t even know what a tick looked like.
Now she is actively investigating possible solutions to what appears to be a tick infestation in her yard and the surrounding neighborhood.
“Check it out yourself,” Snider said Wednesday. “Check yourself several times a day.”
Snider said the ticks in the garden have become so numerous that she can’t get past her patio. She posted a video on Facebook of two jars of ticks to warn her neighbors. One jar has a single tick crawling inside, while the other jar has multiple ticks clustered near the bottom.
“It’s scary. I’m at the point of a mental breakdown right now,” she said.
“I’ve had them on my shoulder, on my hip, when I wake up in the morning. They’re in my bed. It’s scary.”
She put a topical solution on both dogs that she got from the vet, but she doesn’t think it worked. She said she checks herself and her dogs at least three times a day now.
Toronto Public Health (TPH), for its part, said in a statement Wednesday that it cannot yet say for sure whether tick populations are increasing in Toronto.
TPH has started its tick monitoring program for this year. He says he only monitors one species, the blacklegged tick, which carries Lyme disease. It suspended its tick monitoring program in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is too early to tell if there are any trends in tick counts this year,” Dr. Howard Shapiro, director and associate medical officer of health, healthy environment, said in the release.
Shapiro said the risk of Toronto residents being infected by a tick carrying Lyme disease is low. The city is addressing the Lyme disease problem by monitoring tick populations and raising public awareness, he added.
He urged residents, when walking or hiking in wooded or brushy areas with lots of leaves or in areas with tall grass, to wear long pants and long sleeves and use insect repellent containing DEET. or icaridin.
Shapiro said some areas of the city have established populations of ticks known to carry Lyme disease.
Trine Butler, branch manager in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley for Orkin Canada, a pest control company, said she believes reduced pesticide use, along with a warmer climate and increase in the number of pets during the pandemic, had contributed to what appears to be an expansion of the tick population across the country.
These days, Orkin Canada is focusing on creating less tick-friendly environments instead of spraying pesticides, she said. This means working with clients to ensure shrubs are trimmed. She recommends cutting grass short, pruning trees, and quickly removing leaf debris.
Butler suggested that people, in addition to using insect repellent, tuck their pants into their socks, wear closed shoes and button up their shirts when hiking in the forest or bush, then check themselves and their pets when they return home.