Nova Scotians are encouraged to enjoy the outdoors safely by learning to avoid the blacklegged tick bites that can cause Lyme disease.
Blacklegged ticks are found throughout Nova Scotia. Tick checks are the most important defence against the spread of tick-borne illness.
To avoid ticks take the following precautions when in areas with long grass, shrubs or woods:
— wear light coloured, long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks so ticks are more visible
— wear enclosed shoes
— pull socks up over pant legs and tuck in shirts
— spray clothing and exposed skin with an insect repellant containing DEET or Icaridin
— check clothing and exposed skin for ticks after working or playing outside and remove any ticks attached to the skin
— check pets thoroughly for ticks after spending time outside
— when possible, take a bath or shower within two hours of coming indoors. This makes it easier to find ticks and washes away loose ones
— keep grass well cut to minimize suitable habitat for ticks on your property.
Remove ticks as soon as they are found to prevent or reduce the risk of infection. To remove a tick safely carefully grasp it with tweezers. Get as close to the skin as possible. Gently and slowly pull the tick straight out. Do not jerk, twist or squeeze it. Wash the site with soap and water. Disinfect with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to avoid other infections.
Blacklegged ticks must be attached to the skin for at least 36 hours to transmit the bacterial infection that causes Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics. The earliest and most common symptom of Lyme disease is a bullseye rash at the site of the bite, although the rash is not always in this shape. Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, muscle aches and headaches. Anyone who has been in areas with long grass, shrubs or woods and has these symptoms should seek medical attention.
For more information, visit http://novascotia.ca/dhw/CDPC/lyme.asp.