The good weather has finally arrived! You dream of escape and the outdoors. Nature is waking up everywhere around you, ticks too, unfortunately. Ticks are found in wooded areas or grasslands and can be found in places where you might be hiking or walking this summer.
Here are some precautions you can take to help keep ticks away this season and enjoy your outdoor activities with peace of mind.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of a tick infected with bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. Its name comes from Lyme, a town in Connecticut in the United States where the disease was first described in 1976.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
The most common symptom of Lyme disease is reddening of the skin at the bite site.
Other symptoms are:
- Muscle and joint pain
The first symptoms usually appear 3 to 30 days after the bite of a tick carrying the bacteria.
Tick bites are generally painless and every so often goes undetected. This is why it is necessary to monitor the appearance of symptoms if you have been in a risk zone. The earlier the illness is identified and considered, the lower the probability of developing problems.
Are there treatments for Lyme disease?
If you are bitten by a tick in an area where the risk of contracting the disease is high, you could receive preventive treatment with antibiotics depending on your situation. When detected and treated early, the disease disappears completely.
Is Lyme disease contagious?
Lyme disease is not contagious. It is only transmitted by the bite of a tick carrying the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium.
A few precautions to help you prevent Lyme disease this season
Ticks live in forests, woodlands, tall grass, gardens, landscaping, and leaf litter. They do not fly, do not jump, but watch for the right moment to cling to you as you pass. The good news is that it is entirely possible to take certain precautions to help reduce your risk of being bitten by a tick, and therefore protect yourself from Lyme disease.
Safeguard yourself from Lyme disease and ticks with these tips:
Find out about risk areas
If possible, avoid traveling to areas considered high risk. To find out about the situation in each region of Canada, visit the Government of Canada website.
Wear appropriate clothing during outdoor activities
Before any outdoor activity:
- Wear light-colored clothing: if ever a tick decides to cling to it, you will see it more easily.
- Wear closed shoes and long clothes: by covering all parts of your body as much as possible, you limit the risk of being bitten by a tick. If you still decide to wear shorts or a short-sleeved shirt, consider applying mosquito repellent to exposed areas.
Don’t leave any “openings” for a tick to pass through
Put your sweater into your pants and your pants’ bottom into your boots or socks. The idea is not to leave a “door” through which the tick could sneak in and go to its favorite places: armpits, groins, lower back, lower buttocks, back of the knees, navel, etc.
Don’t forget to wear a hat: choose one that covers your hair well. Ticks also like to cling to hair!
Do a thorough inspection when you return from the activity…
Inspect each part of your body as soon as you return. As stated above, ticks are every so often discovered in spots that are hard to see. Don’t hesitate to ask someone for help.
Don’t Forget Your Pet: Pets, specifically dogs, are not immune to Lyme disease. Inspect your dog to make sure no ticks have attached themselves. If you find any, remove them with the help of tick remover for cats or contact his veterinarian.
Put your clothes in the dryer
Immediately put your clothes in the dryer on high for 10 minutes. The dryer temperature will kill any ticks that may have been hiding in your clothes.
Have a shower as soon as possible
Have a shower as soon as you get home. This will remove ticks that are not yet firmly attached to your skin. Infected black-legged tick head stuck in dog must remain attached for at least 24 hours in order to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. The sooner you remove the tick, the lower your risk of having Lyme disease.
Get outside this spring and summer
By taking the right precautions, it is possible to safely enjoy nature walks and hikes and avoid Lyme disease.
Looking for ideas for things to do? Don’t forget to download our Summer Guide to discover activities to do alone or with your family.