Spread by deer ticks, Lyme disease is still rare, but becoming increasingly common in southern Canada. Symptoms after a bite from an infected tick can include a rash and flu-like symptoms that can last for years, severely affecting your quality of life.
Fortunately, only 2% of tick bites result in Lyme disease in humans, and if the tick is removed quickly, that chance is even less. Experts say removing a tick within 36 hours reduces the chance of infection.
Here are a few tips to avoid tick bites, and therefore the chance of getting Lyme disease:
- Late spring and early summer are when the risk is highest.
- Stick to trails rather than walking through tall grass and underbrush where there may be ticks.
- Use a quality DEET-based insect repellent and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Wear a hat, closed shoes or boots and long pants and shirts that make it easier to see ticks. Pale colours make it easier to find ticks on clothing.
- After being out in the woods, thoroughly check your own body and the bodies of any accompanying children or pets; quickly remove any ticks you find, ideally within 24 hours.
- If you must remove a tick, use a pair of tweezers and grasp it near the skin, where the little critter has latched on. Take your time to avoid having its mouthparts break off in the skin. Those mouthparts won’t transmit Lyme disease, but it’s still kind of gross. Disinfect the area afterwards and watch for signs of a rash.
- If a rash appears, usually, but not always at the bite site, keep a close eye on it. If it is Lyme disease the rash will continue to grow over the next few days and weeks and won’t fade away. Time to seek medical attention.