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It's tick season. How to protect yourself from Lyme disease.

07/15/2021
It's tick season. How to protect yourself from Lyme disease.

Lyme disease

Learn how to avoid bites from blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks), which may carry Lyme disease.

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Lyme disease is a potentially serious infection that you can get if you’re bitten by an infected blacklegged tick (also called a deer tick).
Not all blacklegged ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, and not everyone who is bitten by an infected tick will develop signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.
Most active in spring and summer, but can be found at any time of the year when the temperature is above freezing.

How to avoid getting a tick bite

You might be at risk if you live, work in, or visit a wooded area, or an area with tall grasses and bushes (including city gardens and parks).

You may also be at risk if you are involved in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and gardening.

You may be bitten by a tick and not even know it.

Here’s what you can do to avoid getting a tick bite.

Cover up

Wear:

  • light-coloured clothing, so it’s easier to see ticks
  • closed-toed shoes
  • long-sleeved shirts
  • long pants, tucked into your socks
  • special clothing designed to repel ticks

Use insect repellent

Use an insect repellent, or bug spray, that says “DEET” or “icaridin” on it. Put it on your clothes and exposed skin. Always read the label for directions on how to use it.

Put clothes in the dryer

Kill any ticks that might be on your clothing by putting your clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes before washing them.

Check yourself and your children

After being outdoors, check for ticks on yourself and your children. Look:

  • behind your knees
  • on your head
  • in your belly button
  • in your groin area
  • in your underarm area
  • on the back of your body – use a mirror, or ask someone to check for you

It’s a good idea to have a shower as soon as you can to wash off any ticks.

Check your pets for ticks

After being outdoors, check your pets’ skin and remove any ticks you find.

Ask your veterinarian about options to help keep ticks off your pets.

How to remove a tick

Removing a tick is the same for humans and animals. It’s important you do not crush or damage the tick because it could cause Lyme bacteria to pass from the tick into your bloodstream.

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible.
    1. Do not use a lit match or cigarette, nail polish or nail polish remover, petroleum jelly (for example, Vaseline), liquid soap or kerosene to remove the tick.
  2. Pull the tick straight out, gently but firmly.
    1. Do not jerk or twist the tweezers while pulling the tick out.
    2. Do not squeeze the tick - you might crush it.
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  3. Onceyou have removed a tick, wash your skin with soap and water and then disinfectyour skin and your hands with rubbing alcohol or an iodine swab.
  4. Put the tick in a secure container (for example, a bottle with a screw top so it can’t get out or be crushed) and contact your local public health unit.

Why ticks are tested

Tick testing is used to monitor where ticks live. This is why it’s important that you contact your local public health unit once you have a tick in a secure container.

Tick testing is not used to diagnose Lyme disease in humans.

Lyme disease signs and symptoms

Most symptoms of Lyme disease in humans usually appear between three and 30 days after a bite from an infected blacklegged tick.
You should contact your local public health unit or speak to a health care professional right away if you have been somewhere that ticks might live and experience any of the following symptoms:

  • rash
    • a bull’s-eye rash (a red patch on the skin that is usually round or oval and more than 5 cm that  spreads outwards and is getting bigger
    • a bruise-like rash (usually on darker skin tones)
    • another type of unusual rash

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  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • stiff neck
  • muscle aches and joint pains
  • fatique (more tired than usual)
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • spasms, numbness or tingling
  • facial paralysis

If not treated, Lyme disease can make you feel tired and weak and, if it gets really bad, it can even harm your heart, nerves, liver and joints. Symptoms from untreated Lyme disease can last years and include recurring arthritis and neurological problems, numbness, paralysis and, in very rare cases, death.

Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment

Your health care provider may diagnose you with Lyme disease depending on your signs, symptoms and risk factors. Laboratory testing is not always required to diagnose and treat Lyme disease infection.

Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

Source: Ontario government website https://www.ontario.ca/page/lyme-disease

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