By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman on June 19, 2021.
With summer fast approaching, warm weather already here, and after being in isolation due to COVID-19, many Canadians are looking forward to spending time outdoors. Which is why the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is urging people to be on the lookout for ticks.
Ticks themselves are not dangerous, but they can carry many bacterial diseases that are harmful to humans. One of them is Lyme disease, which is carried by blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks.
Lyme disease can be transmitted by a tick bite, and blacklegged ticks are increasingly common in Alberta. They hide in the shade, in wooded areas and in long grasses, and can be carried from place to place by migratory birds as well as humans, pets and camping gear.
The NCC suggest wearing light colour clothing to make ticks easier to find. Preferably wear long sleeve shirts and pants while having everything tucked in to stop ticks from getting on your skin.
“When I go hiking, I like wearing gaiters which are usually nylon leg covers that hook over your boots and that you close in the front so ticks can’t get into your pants at all,” said Michaela Marchuk, NCC communications intern in Edmonton.
Marchuk said that people should wear bug repellent with DEET in it, preferably over their clothing as it is not good to have DEET on your skin. She also mentioned the fact that ticks can’t bite through most clothing and therefore long sleeve shirts and pants are the ideal choices.
NCC recommends people check their clothing, hair and camping gear for ticks before heading home.
“Check yourself over for ticks at the end of the day, because if you manage to pull them off within 12 to 24 hours of them biting you, the chances of you getting Lyme disease are very low,” explained Marchuk.
If you find a tick on yourself, your pets or camping gear the NCC recommends sending it to a lab to get tested for Lyme disease.
“Take tweezers very close to their mouth where it’s attached to your skin, pull them straight off and put them in a little bag. You can send them off to get tested for Lyme disease and we recommend you go to a medical centre to get antibiotics just in case,” said Marchuk.
Marchuk said people should check their whole body for tick bites as they can easily go undetected.
According to the NCC, the first sign you may see is a black lump.Â A more serious one is a rash near the site that may look like a bull’s-eye target. Infected people may also develop flu-like symptoms.
The disease is treatable with antibiotics, and early treatment almost always results in full recovery.
The Government of Canada encourages people to submit their ticks to a public health laboratory for testing, if possible. To learn more, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/lyme-disease/removing-submitting-ticks-testing.html