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BE TICKED OFF! – Lyme Disease Is Preventable

How do I check for ticks?

Do a full body check! This includes:

  • Behind ears
  • In hair
  • Under the arms
  • On your back
  • Groin area
  • Belly button
  • Behind legs
  • In between toes

Also remember to check your pets as they can get infected themselves or transport infected ticks into your house.

 

How to remove a tick?

If you’ve been bitten by a tick and it is still attached to you, do not panic! To remove it:

  1. Use tweezers to slowly pull it out by the head directly away from skin
  2. Wash the skin with soap and water or a sanitizer
  3. Put tick into crush proof bag and call CanLyme for instructions (no endorsement is implied or intended)
  4. Contact your health care provider, especially if any symptoms occur

 

How is Lyme disease transmitted?

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacterium is transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. Not all ticks carry Lyme disease. In Canada, the ticks that carry the bacterium are black-legged ticks, specifically Ixodes scapularis in central and eastern Canada and Ixodes pacificus in western Canada.

Adult ticks are approximately the size of a sesame seed and nymphal ticks are only the size of a poppy seed. Ticks also leak saliva that has a numbing component so that the host (you!) cannot feel the bite. The anesthetic combined with ticks being small in size makes it very possible that there can be a tick attached to you and feasting for multiple days without you even knowing.

A tick that is feeding gradually becomes oversized and changes to a greyish colour.

 

Normal compared to engorged ticks. (WDG Public health https://www.wdgpublichealth.ca/your-community/ticks-lyme-disease)

 

Where in Canada is Lyme disease found?    

 

In Canada, the number of reported Lyme disease cases has increased 14-fold since 2009. Warmer temperatures in Canada due to climate change in the past few years have made the country a more suitable place for ticks to be situated. The disease is now found in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and British Columbia. Both Lyme disease incidence and the geographic range of ticks that carry Lyme disease are increasing every year in Canada.

 

Number of Lyme Disease cases in Canada by year (Global News https://globalnews.ca/news/4197168/tick-forecast-lyme-disease-canada-2018/)

 

96% of Lyme disease cases were reported between the months of May and November. The summer months (June, July, and August) were when over 70% of cases were reported.

Places with high vegetation such as the woods, forests, picnic areas, golf courses, and brush are where most ticks are located. Ticks do not fly, jump, or move quickly. They wait in places such as plants and in long grass and crawl onto the host as it walks by.

 

What are some symptoms of Lyme disease?

 

Typically symptoms occur 3 to 30 days after the bite and include:

  • Rash (can be shaped like a bull’s eye)
    • The rash is the most common symptom, appearing in 74% of Lyme disease cases
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Soreness and headach
Tick appearance at nymph and adult stages (Samaritan Health Services https://www.samhealth.org/about-samaritan/news-search/2018/06/04/lyme-disease-in-oregon)

 

If tick is removed within 24-36 hours of biting, risk of infection drops dramatically. Most Lyme disease cases are treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed in this time frame.

If the bite goes untreated for weeks, there is a chance that you will experience more severe symptoms. These could include, but are not limited to:

  • New rashes
  • Severe headaches
  • Nervous system disorders
    • Dizziness
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Facial paralysis
    • Confusion and memory loss
    • Numbness/tingling in hands or feet

How to protect yourself against Lyme disease?

When in bushy and wooded areas:

  • Wear long sleeves and pants when going out into areas where there may be ticks
  • Tuck your pants into your socks to protect your ankles and legs
  • Use PiACTIVE DEET FREE (as always) or Mosquito Shield DEET based insect repellent
  • Inspect your entire body for ticks after returning home, especially if you have been in the woods

 

Sources:

Gasmi S, Ogden NH, Lindsay LR, Burns S, Fleming S, Badcock J, Hanan S, Gaulin C, Leblanc MA, Russell C, Nelder M, Hobbs L, Graham-Derham S,Lachance L, Scott AN, Galanis E, Koffi JK. “Surveillance for Lyme disease in Canada: 2009–2015.” Can Commun Dis Rep. 2017;43(10):194-9. https://doi.org/10.14745/ccdr.v43i10a01

Coburn M, Zentner, S. “2017 Tick and Lyme Disease Summary.” PublicHealth Willington-Dufferin-Guelph. https://www.wdgpublichealth.ca/sites/default/files/file-attachments/basic-page/bh.01.may0119.c08_-_2018_tick_and_lyme_disease_summary_-_program-service_information_report.pdf

Public Health Agency of Canada. How to check for Lyme disease. Canada.ca/LymeDisease

Public Health Agency of Canada. Enjoy the outdoors, without a tick. Canada.ca/LymeDisease

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