Take Extra Care: Ticks are on the Move
The following article is from the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety and due to the drastic increase in the spread of Lyme Disease in the USA and now Canada I felt the need to post it for all to see. I have a few friends who suffer from Lyme Disease and it has had a drastic impact on their lives and health.
Take Extra Care: Ticks are on the Move
Blacklegged ticks continue to burrow themselves into the news cycle. They are hard to detect, they are increasing in numbers, and their preferred habitat continues to expand in Canada. In their early life, the nymphal stage, when they are as small as a poppy seed, infected ticks can attach themselves to you and transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Lyme disease isn’t new to Canada, but it has only been since about 2012 that the ticks that carry the bacteria have become plentiful, mostly due to warmer winters that allow more of them to survive. The number of reported cases of Lyme disease in Canada rose from 144 cases in 2009 to 992 in 2016 to 2,025 in 2017.
Risk areas in Canada with blacklegged tick populations currently include regions of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, plus all of Nova Scotia.
The risk of getting a tick bite starts when the weather warms up in May and through September. Infection rates increase in the spring and summer months because the ticks are still small and therefore harder to see. Adult ticks can also be active in the winter, if the winter is mild and there is not much snow.
Who is at risk?
Many occupations may be at risk, including forestry, farming, veterinarians, construction, landscaping, ground keepers, park or wildlife management, and anyone who either works outside or has contact with animals that may carry ticks (including domesticated animals like dogs, cats, goats, cows, and horses).
Similarly, any person who spends a lot time outdoors (hiking, camping, birding, golfing, hunting, or fishing), especially in grassy or wooded areas, may also be at risk.
Tips to reduce the risk
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Here are some ways to protect yourself if you venture into forests or overgrown areas between the woods and open spaces:
- Wear protective clothing to prevent ticks from attaching to your skin. Wear closed toed shoes, long sleeve shirts that fit tightly around the wrist, and long pants tucked into your socks or boots.
- If possible, avoid contact with low bushes and long grasses. For example, if hiking or walking, walk in the center of the trail.
- Wear light-colored clothes to make spotting ticks easier.
- Use insect repellents containing DEET or Icaridin on your skin and clothing, and always read and follow label directions.
- Wash clothes promptly and put them in the dryer with heat to help kill any ticks that may remain.
- Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks.
- Check your clothes for ticks often. Ticks will climb upwards until they find an area of exposed skin.
- Do daily “full body” checks for ticks on yourself, your children and pets.
Health effects of Lyme
If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to severe headaches, rashes, facial paralysis, arthritis, heart disorders, and neurological disorders. The good news is that if a tick bite is caught early, within the first few hours or weeks, a course of antibiotics can be taken to prevent the disease. If you are diagnosed in the later stages of the disease, you may require a longer course of antibiotics and may experience symptoms that persist after treatment.
Share this article with anyone who may be at risk of coming into contact with ticks. By spreading the word, you can help prevent the spread of Lyme disease.
- Lyme Disease, Government of Canada
- Lyme Disease fact sheet, CCOHS
- Talking About Lyme Disease podcast, CCOHS
- Lyme Prevention, Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation (CanLyme)