Pre­vent the bite, pre­vent the dis­ease

The Sudbury Star - - LOCAL - SUD­BURY STAR STAFF

As the snow melts and the warm weather re­turns, so does the risk of con­tact with a black­legged tick. Pub­lic Health Sud­bury and Dis­tricts is re­mind­ing you to pro­tect your­self and your fam­ily against tick bites.

Al­though the risk of con­tract­ing Lyme dis­ease re­mains low, peo­ple need to pro­tect them­selves when en­joy­ing the out­doors. Black­legged ticks in­fected with the bac­te­ria that causes Lyme dis­ease have been found in the Sud­bury and Man­i­toulin dis­tricts in past years; how­ever, they are com­monly found in ru­ral ar­eas along the north shores of Lake Erie, Lake On­tario, Lake Su­pe­rior and the St. Lawrence River, as well as in the Rainy River area of north­west­ern On­tario.

“Peo­ple en­joy­ing the out­doors need to check for ticks im­me­di­ately af­ter ac­tiv­i­ties like gar­den­ing or hik­ing. This is one of the sim­plest ways you can pro­tect your­self from Lyme dis­ease,” Adam Ranger, an en­vi­ron­men­tal sup­port of­fi­cer with Pub­lic Health Sud­bury and Dis­tricts, said in a re­lease.

Black­legged ticks do not jump or fly. They wait on grass and bushes for an­i­mals or hu­mans to brush against the vegetation. Ticks vary in size and colour and can be hard to see un­til they are full of blood.

Avoid­ing a tick bite in the first place is best. To pre­vent tick bites:

- Avoid walk­ing in tall grass.

- Make sure yards are kept clear of de­bris and over­grown vegetation, grass, bushes and trees.

Keep wood­piles and bird feed­ers away from homes.

Wear a long-sleeved, light-coloured shirt, pants and closed-toe shoes.

Use in­sect re­pel­lents that are ap­proved by Health Canada and fol­low the ap­pli­ca­tion rec­om­men­da­tions on the pack­age. Do a tick check.

Take a shower af­ter out­door ac­tiv­i­ties to help wash off ticks that have not yet at­tached them­selves to the skin.

If you find a tick at­tached to a hu­man:

Use fine-tipped tweez­ers to grab the tick close to the skin and gen­tly pull straight up.

Wash the area with soap and wa­ter.

Put the tick in a dry container and bring it to your lo­cal health unit to be sent for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and test­ing for Lyme dis­ease.

Fol­low up with your health care provider to de­ter­mine if you need treat­ment, es­pe­cially if the tick has been at­tached for more than 24 hours.

Lyme dis­ease is treated with an­tibi­otics. If left un­treated, Lyme dis­ease can cause se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions to the heart, joints and ner­vous sys­tem.

Signs and symp­toms of Lyme dis­ease may in­clude a rash around the area of the bite that looks like a red bull’s eye; fever, headache, mus­cle and joint pain; and fa­tigue, stiff neck and swollen glands.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Lyme dis­ease and ticks, call PHSD at 705-522-9200 ext. 464 (toll-free 1-866-522-9200) or visit phsd.ca.

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