Funding for Pharmacist Assessment to Help Prevent Lyme Disease

Health And Wellness

**** HEALTH/WELLNESS Media Release

Funding for Pharmacist Assessment to Help Prevent Lyme Disease
Nova Scotians who get bitten by a tick can now go to their local pharmacy to assess the need for treatment to help prevent Lyme disease. The cost of the assessment will be covered by the government, effective immediately.

Nova Scotians who had a tick bite previously had to go to a physician or nurse practitioner to get a provincially covered assessment.

“I am from rural Nova Scotia where ticks and tick bites are a frequent reality,” said Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson. “We want to give Nova Scotians increased access to care when and where it makes sense. Pharmacists are a big part of that and funding assessments at local pharmacies often makes it easier and more convenient for people, whether rural or urban residents, to prevent this potentially serious disease.”

Pharmacists can assess and determine whether a preventive antibiotic is appropriate. The assessment would include:
— whether the tick bite was from a blacklegged tick
— whether the tick was removed in the previous 72 hours
— whether the tick was attached for at least 36 hours.

If the antibiotic treatment – a single dose of doxycycline – is prescribed, the patient would pay for the medication by their usual method.

The treatment is only recommended if it can be administered within a 72-hour window after the tick is removed. If there are any symptoms of Lyme disease, such as a rash at the bite site, people need to see a doctor or nurse practitioner for other treatment options.

“The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites altogether, but in certain circumstances where there has been a tick bite, doxycycline remains an effective option to prevent the onset of Lyme disease. It is good news knowing that people can easily go to their local pharmacy to get this assessment for free.”
​ ​ ​ ​ ​ – Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health

“We are very happy with the government’s decision to fund another important pharmacy service for something that can be quite urgent. This early preventive service can stop Lyme disease in its tracks.”
​ ​ ​ ​ ​ – Diane Harpell, Chair, Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia, and pharmacist / pharmacy owner, Dartmouth

Quick Facts:
— in 2019, there were 830 confirmed and probable cases of Lyme disease reported in Nova Scotia
— Lyme disease is a serious bacterial infection caused by bites from an infected blacklegged tick; symptoms include a rash at the site of the bite, fatigue, fever or chills, headache, muscle or joint pain, numbness or tingling, swollen lymph nodes, cognitive dysfunction or dizziness, nervous system disorders, arthritis, or heart palpitations
— antibiotics can be used to successfully treat most cases of Lyme disease
— people can prevent tick bites by avoiding walking in forest or high-grass areas, tucking pant legs into socks and shirt into pants, wearing light-coloured clothing to make it easier to spot ticks, applying bug spray with DEET or icaridin to clothing, doing a daily check for ticks, and drying wet clothes in the dryer for at least 10 minutes

Additional Resources:
For more information on Lyme disease in Nova Scotia, visit:

For more information about healthcare services available at Nova Scotia pharmacies, visit:

To learn more about how to prevent Lyme disease, visit:

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