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10 Jul 2018

Tick Talk


Topics: Senior Health, Active Seniors

This time of year, in Ontario, we hear a lot about watching out for ticks. The reason for concern is a bite from a tick can cause a debilitating condition called Lyme Disease. Symptoms can appear for 3 to 30 days after a bite from an infected black legged tick. S

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Spasms, numbness or tingling
  • Facial paralysis
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen glands
  • Expanding skin rash

Most cases of Lyme Disease can be treated with antibiotics. Untreated symptoms of Lyme disease can result in neurological problems, numbness, paralysis and in very rare cases, death.

Black legged ticks live in wooded areas, tall grasses and bushes. They spread to new areas of the province because of climate change and warmer winter weather. They can also spread by traveling on birds and deer.

Not all ticks are infected with Lyme Disease. A tick must be infected by the bacteria causing Lyme Disease to pass it on to you. Ticks can be anywhere in Ontario and are most active in the spring and summer months when the temperatures are above freezing.

The best way to prevent Lyme Disease is to prevent tick bites. You can do this by:

  • Covering up
  • Using insect repellent
  • Double-checking yourself after being in an area of high grasses, bushes and trees.
  • Checking your pets

Your clothing can give you an important layer of protection. Wear light clothing so you can spot ticks, a long-sleeved shirt and tucking pants into socks during hiking or other outdoor activities. Also use a bug spray containing DEET.

How to remove a tick.

  • Use tweezers to grasp the tick. Don’t use your fingers
  • Pull the tick straight out
  • After removing a tick, place it in a baggy or secure container like a pill bottle to send away for testing
  • Contact your local Public Health Unit
  • Thoroughly clean the bite site with rubbing alcohol or soap and water

Enjoy the warm weather and hiking activities but be on the alert for tick bites.