Health Unit monitoring ticks
Tick. (File photo)
RENFREW COUNTY – The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is working with provincial and territorial public health organizations to keep an eye out for ticks and inform the public of any risks.
According to a press release sent out by PHAC on July 31, their ongoing surveillance in recent years indicates that tick numbers have been increasing in eastern and central Canada.
As tick season is generally from April to October, with a spike in midsummer from June to August, PHAC and local health organizations have been delving deeper into their investigations to be aware of emerging tick populations and be prepared to protect and inform the public.
The primary concern of ticks, namely blacklegged and western blacklegged ticks, is that they are carriers of Lyme disease.
This infectious disease is spread to humans and animals through the bite of these select types of ticks.
Early symptoms typically occur three to 30 days after a bite from an infected tick. The symptoms will differ from person to person and may include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and occasionally a rash that resembles a bull’s eye will show up in the area on the skin that was bitten by the infected mosquito.
If left untreated, more severe symptoms may occur and can last from months to years. These range from headaches, additional skin rashes, facial paralysis, intermittent aches, heart disorders (heart palpitations, abnormal heartbeat), neurological disorders (dizziness, mental confusion or inability to think clearly, memory loss, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, nerve pain, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet), and arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling.
PHAC senior media relations advisor Anna Maddison stressed that the public should take preventive measures against ticks year-round, but they should remain particularly cautious during these summer months when they are spending time outdoors in wooden areas.
Precautions to take when venturing into wooded or other at-risk areas for Lyme disease:
Wear light coloured long-sleeved shirts and pants to spot ticks more easily.
Tuck your shirt into your pants, and pull your socks over your pant legs.
Use bug spray containing DEET or Icaridin on your skin and clothing (always follow the directions on the label).
Walk on cleared paths or walkways.
Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to facilitate a prompt tick check and to remove ticks that have not attached yet.
Do a daily full-body check for ticks on yourself, your children and pets. Pay particular attention to the hair, under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs and around the waist.
If you find an attached tick, remove it with tweezers immediately. Removing it within 24‑36 hours can help prevent infection.
Do a tick check on your outdoor gear and your pets as they could carry ticks inside your home.
Put dry outdoor clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any remaining ticks. If your clothes are damp, additional drying time is needed. If you need to wash your clothes first, hot water is recommended. If the clothes cannot be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes.
“The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. The Agency encourages people to spend time outdoors and to be active, while remembering to protect themselves against tick bites and Lyme disease,” said Maddison.
If symptoms of Lyme disease develop, individuals are encouraged to contact their health care provider right away. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the greater the chance of a successful treatment.