How to avoid Lyme dis­ease

The Glengarry News - - News -

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.

Eastern On­tario is a high risk area, mean­ing odds are that you will en­counter a tiny blood sucker some­time this summer.

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.

Black­legged ticks are small and hard to see. They at­tach them­selves to hu­mans and an­i­mals and feed on their blood. They can range in size depend­ing on how long they have been feed­ing.

Pub­lic Health On­tario’s Lyme dis­ease page has a map (called “On­tario Lyme dis­ease es­ti­mated risk ar­eas map, 2019”) that shows ar­eas in On­tario where they es­ti­mate you are more likely to find black­legged ticks.

Black­legged ticks are spread­ing to new ar­eas of the prov­ince be­cause of cli­mate change. They can also spread by trav­el­ling on birds and deer.

Ticks are most ac­tive in spring and summer, but can be found at any time of the year when the tem­per­a­ture is above freez­ing.

You might be at risk if you live, work in, or visit a wooded area, or an area with tall grasses and bushes.

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.

Wear light-coloured cloth­ing, so it’s eas­ier to see ticks. Also put on closed-toed shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants that are tucked into your socks.

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 ten 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, in­spect your pets’ skin and re­move any ticks you find.

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

You can help keep black­legged ticks away from your prop­erty by keep­ing grass mowed short, trim­ming bushes and tree branches to let in sun­light (ticks avoid hot, dry lo­ca­tions), cre­at­ing a border of gravel or wood chips one me­tre or wider around your yard if you’re next to a wooded area, or an area with tall grasses.

Re­move leaf lit­ter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn and from stone walls and wood piles, move chil­dren’s swing sets, play­ground equip­ment and sand­boxes away from wooded ar­eas.

Con­sider plac­ing equip­ment on a wood­chip or mulch foun­da­tion.

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.

Use fine-tipped tweez­ers and grasp the tick as close to your skin as pos­si­ble.

Do not use a lit match or cig­a­rette, nail pol­ish or nail pol­ish re­mover, petroleum jelly (e.g., Vase­line), liq­uid soap or kerosene to re­move the tick.

Pull the tick straight out, gently but firmly.

Do not jerk or twist the tweez­ers while pulling the tick out.

Do not squeeze the tick – you might crush it.

Once you have re­moved a tick, wash your skin with soap and water and then dis­in­fect your skin and your hands with rub­bing al­co­hol or an io­dine swab.

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.

Your health­care provider may di­ag­nose you with Lyme dis­ease depend­ing on your signs, symp­toms and risk fac­tors.

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

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