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More support needed for search and rescue volunteers with Lyme disease says vice-president

Sherry Veinot says search and rescue volunteers are at a higher risk of of contracting Lyme disease
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(stock photo)

When Sherry Veinot had a difficult time getting up and moving around, she knew something was wrong.

"You just don't want to get up off the chair," she said. "I'm usually a pretty high energy person. This went on for four or five days."

Shortly after, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease.

Veinot is the vice-president of the Nova Scotia Ground Search and Rescue Association and believes participating in a search led to her getting the tick-borne illness.

She told NEWS 95.7's The Sheldon MacLeod Show, because of the amount of time they spend in the outdoors training and searching for people, volunteers with her organization are at a higher risk of contracting Lyme disease.

The bacterial infection is transmitted to humans from infected blacklegged ticks. 

According to Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, blacklegged ticks are found all throughout the province, often in or near wooded or forested areas, shrubs and long grass.

Veinot said her organization stresses safety for all of their volunteers.

"We're telling people to make sure your cuffs are tucked, make sure your pant legs are tight, and when you're done and go home, make sure you check," explained Veinot.

The health department recommends looking for ticks in the hair, around the neck and ears, behind the knees, between the toes and legs/groin area, and around the waist, elbows and armpits.

Ticks generally need to be attached for at least 24 to 36 hours to transmit Lyme disease.

In addition to fever, fatigue, muscle aches and headaches, those who think they may be infected are asked to look for a bullseye rash, but Veinot said that's not always the case.

"I didn't have the bullseye that they talk about a lot," she said. "What I understand is not everyone is getting bullseye. It can be a hot rash on an area of your body."

Veinot believes the risk from tick-borne illnesses is being downplayed in Nova Scotia.

She would like to see the province to do more to protect members of the Nova Scotia Ground Search and Rescue Association from Lyme disease, and do more to support the volunteers who already have contracted it.




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