During this time of year, the Huron County Health Unit often receives calls from the public about ticks.
“There are several species of ticks in Huron County,” says Public Health Inspector Kaitlyn Kelly. “But only an infected blacklegged tick can transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.”
So far this year, the Health Unit has received 27 ticks for identification and testing. Four of these were identified as blacklegged ticks. Of those four, two tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
An infected blacklegged tick must be attached and feeding for at least 24-36 hours before it will start to transmit the bacteria, so early detection and removal of a tick is important.
If you do locate a tick on your body, here’s how to remove it safely:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers.
- Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible.
- Pull it straight out, gently but firmly.
- Clean the bite area thoroughly with soap and water.
- Save the tick in a jar or screw-top bottle if you can and take it to your doctor or your local health unit, where it will be submitted for identification and testing if needed.
Here are some ways to prevent tick bites:
- Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts, long pants and closed-toed shoes. Pull your socks over your pant legs.
- Apply an insect repellent, approved by Health Canada, to both your skin and clothes and always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Conduct head-to-toe tick checks, remembering to check children and pets as well.
- Shower after returning from the outdoors to wash off any loose ticks.
- Put your clothes into a dryer on high heat for 60 minutes to kill any possible ticks.
If you have been in an area known to contain blacklegged ticks or have been bitten by a tick, watch for the following symptoms:
- Muscle and joint pains
- Skin rash in the shape of a bull’s eye
If you have any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.
For more information on Lyme disease and ways to protect yourself, visit www.huronhealthunit.ca.