March 24, 2023
The ticks are out! When temperatures rise above 4oC, ticks become active. Enjoy the benefits of being outdoors by going for a hike, working in the garden or cleaning up leaf litter in the yard; but remember to be tick smart. Black legged ticks in our area may carry bacteria that cause Lyme disease and you cannot tell if a tick is positive by looking at it. Taking the following precautions will help to reduce your risk:
- Dress in light coloured clothing so you can see that a tick is on you (they are dark in colour).
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin. You can apply this to clothing or your skin.
- Put your outdoor clothes in a hot dryer for several minutes to kill ticks.
- Wear clothing that contains a tick repellent
- Do a tick check when you return inside. If possible, have someone check you from behind. Check your pets for ticks as well.
- Thoroughly check your body for ticks and nymph and promptly remove them using tweezers or a tick twister.
- You can take a quick shower and scrub well to help remove any unattached ticks.
- Speak to your vet about ways to protect your pet.
Lyme disease transmission depends on the length of time the infected tick is attached. Ticks that are removed quickly and have been attached for less than 24 hours are not likely to transfer the bacteria. However, if the tick has been attached for longer than 24 hours you may be at an increased risk and it is recommended that you consult your health care provider.
Check any ticks you remove from your body to determine if they are fat or flat. A fat tick is an indication that it has been feeding for a longer period of time. Tick specimens are not used for diagnosis of disease so they are no longer accepted at the Health Unit. Individuals can submit a photo to the website, eTick – for tick identification.
Lyme disease symptoms can range from a bull’s eye rash around the bite area, to headache, fever and muscle/joint pain. Symptoms can appear from 3 days to several weeks following a tick bite. Even if you have had Lyme disease before, you can be reinfected. Consult your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
If you have been following statistics on the health unit website, you may have noticed the Lyme disease section of the dashboard appears to have a drop in cases after 2021. Unlike the collection of other reportable disease reports, test results for Lyme disease have only been collected and entered into the provincial database for surveillance purposes (i.e., to determine if Lyme disease exists and/or it’s prevalent in a certain area). There are no public health measures we can take after someone tests positive and Lyme disease cannot be transmitted from person to person. Furthermore, the Lyme disease cases reported to the health unit are only a fraction of the total number of infections in our region. Since we already know that Lyme Disease is highly prevalent throughout the LGL region, the health unit no longer posts the number of Lyme disease reports we receive. Note that Lyme disease continues to be common in our region. We continue to review all Lyme disease cases we receive. If there is a need to communicate changes in information around ticks and Lyme disease, we will provide information on our website and appropriate media channels.
Lyme disease can lead to serious, long-lasting health effects, and it remains important for residents to continue to take precautions.
For more information about ticks and Lyme disease: visit our Insect Bites and Diseases section of our website or call 1-800-660-5853. You can also e-mail us at [email protected] or connect with @LGLHealthUnit on Facebook and Twitter or @lglhealthunit.z on Instagram.
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