Now that the warm weather is finally here, both people and animals are becoming more active outdoors. Ticks are also becoming active. Lyme Disease is spread by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks (commonly called deer ticks). To date, the Lyme Disease bacteria has been identified in ticks in Prince Edward County and the Belleville area but not elsewhere in Hastings County.
The best prevention against Lyme Disease is prevention. When venturing into forests or overgrown areas, take the following steps to prevent tick bites:
Wear closed-toe shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and pants;Pull socks over pant legs;Wear light-coloured clothes to spot ticks easier;Use insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin; andDo a full-body check for ticks on yourself, children, and pets.
Ticks attach themselves to the skin. Removing them within 24 to 48 hours prevents Lyme infection. The best way to remove a tick is to use clean, fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the head as close to the skin as possible, and slowly pull the tick straight out (do not twist, crush, or puncture). Wash the site of the bite with soap and water or disinfect with alcohol or hand sanitizer. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for one hour to kill any remaining ticks.
Save the tick in a zip-lock bag. Record the date of the bite and likely geographic source. Bring the tick to one of the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health offices so that we can test it for Lyme bacteria. Please note that this is for surveillance purposes only. The testing is too slow to help with any medical decisions about treatment. We are especially interested in testing ticks that are found north of the Bay of Quinte.
I recommend that you seek prompt medical attention if you are bitten by a tick in Prince Edward County and the tick stays attached for more than 24 hours. Under these circumstances, a single dose of antibiotics given promptly is effective prevention for Lyme infection.
Common signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease are fever, headache, muscle or joint pains, fatigue, and a skin rash, especially one that looks like a red bull's eye (the rash occurs in approximately 70-80% of infected individuals).
Wishing you a pleasant and tick-free summer ...