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Tips to protect against tick bites, and what to do if you've been bitten

Posted: 2019-05-06 11:26 Permanent Link

Julia Fountain ND

Lyme disease is an infection transmitted through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick. In the spring and fall of 2018, Halton Region staff members performed tick dragging, a method of collecting ticks for the purpose of identifying risk areas. Based on this surveillance, most of Halton is considered a risk area for Lyme disease. Ticks are more likely to be present in wooded areas, brush and long grass.

Symptoms of Lyme disease can be different for each person and usually begin within three days to one month after being bitten by an infected tick.

Common signs and symptoms of Lyme disease can include any of the following:
-circular, red rash (often, but not always, looks like a ‘bull’s-eye’), which slowly expands around the tick bite area
-extreme fatigue (tiredness) and weakness
-headache and neck stiffness
-fever or chills
-swollen lymph nodes
-spasms, numbness or tingling
Additional symptoms can include:
-mental confusion
-central and peripheral nervous system disorders (involving the brain, nerves and spinal cord)
-arthritis and arthritic symptoms (muscle and joint aches, joint swelling)
-heart palpitations or abnormal heartbeat
-dizziness
-conjunctivitis

If you find a tick on your body, remove it as soon as possible. The risk of getting Lyme disease increases with the length of time the tick remains attached. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely low.

How to remove a tick:
Use fine-tip tweezers to grasp the tick’s head and mouth parts as close to your skin as possible.
Slowly pull straight out until the tick is removed.
Be careful not to twist or crush the tick during removal.
If this occurs, the risk of infection is not increased.
Keeping the tick intact will help in the identification of the tick.
Store the tick in a sealed dry container. Do not squish the tick.
After removing the tick, use soap and water to wash the area of the bite.

See your doctor or healthcare provider right away if you have been bitten by a tick or develop symptoms consistent with Lyme disease. You may submit the tick to the Health Department for identification and testing (ticks from pets are not accepted). The Health Department will notify you of the results. In Ontario, the only tick known to be associated with Lyme Disease is the blacklegged tick. Results are used for surveillance purposes only and are not intended for clinical diagnosis.

There are several steps you can take to prevent tick bites:
Cover up by wearing long sleeved, light coloured shirts and pants with tightly woven fabric.
Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pant legs into your socks to keep ticks away from your bare skin.
When walking in the woods or long grass, wear shoes that cover your entire foot, avoiding sandals or open shoes.
Spray clothing and exposed skin with an insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin.
Check your clothing and body for any ticks, especially around the groin, armpits and hairline after spending time outdoors. Carefully remove any ticks found on yourself or a family member and submit them to the Halton Region Health Department for identification.
Check your pets regularly for ticks as they could carry them inside your home.
Shower or bathe within two hours or being outdoors to wash away loose ticks.
After outdoor activity, put clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill any ticks.

Resources:
www.halton.ca
www.publichealthontario.ca
www.ontario.ca

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