There has been a lot of talk in the news lately about Lyme disease, which of course means avoiding contact with ticks. It is somewhat frustrating for outdoor enthusiasts who wait all winter to enjoy their summer pursuits only to be told to cover up, put chemicals on your body and go outside and get healthy! I believe with a little bit of careful preparation and caution we can enjoy our summers safely.
Ticks are found in long grasses, piles of damp leaves or wood, forests and bushy areas.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid these pesky arachnids.
1. Cover up. If you are going to be traipsing through long grass and bush areas, wear long pants and tuck them in to your boots or socks. Long sleeve shirts are recommended as well.
2. DEET. If you are participating in an activity like hiking or golf and wearing shorts an insect repellant with 30% DEET is suggested.
3. If you wear light coloured clothes it is easier to spot ticks that may have attached themselves to your clothing.
4. If you are hiking, try and stay on the trails to avoid contact with the long grasses and damp wooded areas.
5. After any outdoor activity in areas where ticks are present, always do a body scan of yourself, children and pets. Ticks love to nestle in to warm areas on your body like toes, armpits, knees, groin and scalp.
If you find a tick remove it as soon as possible. The sooner you remove it the less likely you will be infected with Lyme disease. If you think the tick may have been attached or looks engorged, carefully remove the tick. To remove a tick, it is suggested that you use tweezers, grasp the tick at its head, as close to your body as possible, and pull straight up. Once you have removed the tick be sure to wash the area with soap and water. Save the tick in a small jar and bring it to your doctor. The tick can be tested to see if it is carrying Lyme disease.
The list of symptoms of Lyme disease is long and varied. Here is a link to the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation’s list: https://canlyme.com/lyme-basics/symptoms/
If you think you have been exposed to an infected tick, see your health care provider right away.
If you have a pet that spends a lot of time outdoors, it is important to check them for ticks as well. Remove them the same way as discussed above, then safely dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet or sealing it in a bag and placing it in the garbage. There is a vaccine available for dogs.
The Ottawa area has been tagged as a higher risk area in Ontario. Be safe, take the proper precautions and get out side and enjoy our summer!