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Editorial: Be informed

['Editorial']
['Editorial']

A photo that showed up on social media last week certainly raised some eyebrows in the Stephenville area as there were claims that a clump of eggs featured in it were tick eggs.

When people looked comparable photos available online, there was a resemblance to them and the online posts caught attention, especially when one of them made claims that local veterinarians had verified they were tick eggs ready to hatch.

However, when contacted, that’s not exactly what the veterinarians were saying, just that it looked significantly like a tick egg nest but that without a sample that couldn’t be definitely confirmed.

Immediately, some people reacted and Paul Grenier of the Walk-a-Ways Parks and Trails group said he had people say they wouldn’t use the trail because of the fear of them or their pet getting ticks, which are known in some cases to carry Lyme disease.

Grenier and others posted that they believed that the sack of eggs was actually frog eggs and he said he had seen such clumps in the past. Unfortunately, like others, he couldn’t confirm it without having a sample to work with.

Officials with the town, when they learned of it a number of days after that particular photo was taken, couldn’t say what it was because there was nothing else to go on but the photo. However, they had a sneaking suspicion it was frog eggs because there are lots of frogs in that area and the location where the eggs were found was underwater a couple of weeks prior and that’s where frogs are known to lay their eggs.

Late last week, several experts in the field confirmed that by looking at the photo, they didn’t believe it was tick eggs.

Dr. Tom Chapman, microbiology, evolutionary biology and entomology professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, said the eggs are unlikely to be from ticks.

He said this is because each egg appears (using the blade of grass on the same focal plane as the eggs) to be about the size of an adult tick (one that is not filled with a victim's blood).

Retired Provincial Veterinarian Hugh Whitney said from looking at the photo, if he had to guess between frog eggs and tick eggs, he would certainly guess frog eggs. He said it could be something else but wouldn't think tick eggs.

Yes, there have been cases of ticks found in pets in the area with the West Coast Veterinary Services treating 10 cases in a number of years; however, that doesn’t make it epidemic proportions.

The point is that lots of stuff can be found on social media and hysteria can easily be created about some particular thing if not fully investigated.

Like Mayor Tom O’Brien said, if you find something you are curious about, contact the town and it will have personnel check into it, but the sooner the better.

There’s lots of information available on the Internet about different subjects, but wading through it all and being certain about what’s being posted is sometimes a grey area. Before posting, check with the experts.

It’s those people that usually have the right answers.

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