The Hub June 2017 - Page 6

Windsor-Essex County Health Unit Ticks and Lyme disease Ticks are a relative to the spider and are a crawling, non-flying insect. They vary in size and colour. Ticks are very small (1 to 5 mm) when unfed and female ticks get larger and change colour when feeding. Ticks can spread diseases including Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Powassan Virus Disease, and Tularemia. Blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis, formerly called deer ticks) spread the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. The bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) are most likely to be transmitted after the tick has been attached to you for more than 24 hours. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread through the bite of a blacklegged tick. Southwestern Ontario is an established area for Lyme disease; when going outdoors you and your family members should protect yourselves against ticks. Early symptoms of Lyme disease usually occur within one to two weeks, but can occur as soon as three days or as long as a month, after being bitten by an infected tick. Symptoms may include: q fever q headache q muscle and joint pains q fatigue (tiredness) q skin rash that looks like a red bullseye q numbness or tingling q swollen lymph node Anyone can get Lyme disease, but people who spend more time outdoors are at higher risk. These include: What do I do if I’m bitten by a tick? u Quickly remove the tick with a tick key or use a pair of tweezers. DO NOT USE YOUR FINGERS u Gently wash the bite and surrounding area with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. u Do not dispose of the tick. Keep it in a container or a small plastic bag that can be sealed. Place a piece of damp paper towel in the container or the bag. u Contact your health care provider. u Bring the tick into the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and we will send it away for identification. u hikers, campers, hunters, or other outdoor enthusiasts u people who live or work in an area near woods or overgrown bush u people who have outdoor jobs such as landscaping or brush clearing Ticks are often found in the woods and the edge area between lawns and woods. Ticks can also be carried around by animals into yards, gardens and into houses. In Ontario, known endemic locations for ticks and Lyme disease are: Point Pelee National Park Rondeau Provincial Park Turkey Point Provincial Park Long Point Provincial Park and National Wildlife Area Wainfleet Bog Conservation area Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area Thousand Islands National Park Exposure to ticks can occur during the months of April to November with the nymphs being active in the late spring and early summer and the adults being active in the fall. What can I do to protect myself? Use insect repellent. DEET is safe when used in correct concentrations, depending on the user’s age. 6 months to 2 years: up to 10 per cent, don’t apply more than once a day. 2 to 12 years: up to 10 per cent can reapply up to three times daily. 12+ years: up to 30 per cent. NOTE: Less than 6 months: don’t use DEET products. Less than 12 years: don’t use DEET daily for more than a month. Icaridin should not be used on children younger than 6 months old. Avoid walking in tall grass and stay on the centre of paths. Cover up. Wear long- sleeved shirts and pants. Wear light coloured clothing to spot ticks easily. Tuck your pants into your socks and wear closed toed shoes. Do a full body check on yourself, children and pets after being outdoors. Shower within 2 hours of being outdoors. Put your clothes into a dryer on high heat (at least 60 minutes) to kill any possible ticks Put a tick collar on your pets. Keep grass in your yard short. For more information about ticks, Lyme disease and how to remove a tick, visit wechu.org or call 519-258-2146 6 The HUB June 2017