The tick population is on the rise in Canada. Ticks can carry bacteria which if you are bitten, can result in Lyme disease.
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites by:
- covering up, for example by tucking your pants into your socks and wearing closed footwear when walking through leafy/wooded areas
- using insect repellent
- do a “tick-check” for yourself and children when coming in from wooded areas
- washing to remove ticks that may not be attached through a bite
- checking your pets when they come inside as they could be carrying ticks into your cottage
- keeping grass mowed short
- trimming bushes and tree branches to let in sunlight (ticks avoid hot, dry locations)
- creating a border of gravel or woodchips one metre or wider around your yard if you’re next to a wooded area, or one with tall grasses
- removing leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn and from stone walls and wood piles
Don’t panic if you do find a tick on your body. If possible, have a medical professional remove the tick. Alternatively, the Ontario government suggests the following steps to remove ticks (https://www.ontario.ca/page/lyme-disease#section-3):
- If the tick is attached to you, use fine-tipped tweezers or tick removal tool to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Do not use your fingers.
- Pull the tick straight out, gently but firmly making sure to remove the entire tick (including the head). Don’t squeeze it – avoid crushing the tick’s body as the lyme bacteria is contained in the belly.
- After removing the tick, place it in a secure container, such as a screw-top bottle used for medication.
- See a doctor and give the tick to your doctor for testing
- Thoroughly clean the bite site with rubbing alcohol and/or soap and water.
- Take daily pictures of the bite over the coming days for future reference.
Symptoms of Lyme disease usually begin between three days and one month after being bitten by an infected tick. Prompt antibiotic treatment is usually effective so see a doctor immediately if you suspect a tick bite. Early symptoms of Lyme disease may include; fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and an expanding bulls eye red rash.
If left untreated, Lyme disease symptoms could progress to cardiac symptoms such as heart palpitations, arthritic symptoms, extreme fatigue and general weakness, and central and peripheral nervous system. disorders. Lyme disease is diagnosed through a combination of symptom presentation, history of exposure to infected ticks and/or validated laboratory test results.
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