You're not likely to contract Lyme disease in Alaska -- yet -- but that doesn't mean the state is a tick-free zone, says the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. There's one native variety of tick, but non-native, disease-carrying varieties have been reported in the state, mostly found on dogs that may or may not have traveled Outside.
"We don't have dog, deer or moose ticks in Alaska, and we don't want them here," said Kimberlee Beckmen, a veterinarian with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Ticks carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis, Lyme disease, Q-fever, tularemia and other diseases - and many of the diseases affect dogs, wildlife and people.
One tick came from a dog in Sitka, a dog that had just come up from Oregon. That tick was a species that carries Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Beckmen said. One tick came from a dog that had never left Juneau. Two more ticks came from dogs that had never left Sitka.
"Veterinarians and the public are not generally aware that we can have these ticks and tick-borne diseases," Beckmen said. "Last week I had a vet ask me about a strange case in a dog that involved paralysis, and I said he should consider tick paralysis - and that was not even in his mindset. It's not something Alaskan veterinarians would think to look for."
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