By: James Burrows
As trails and conservation areas reopen across Georgina, many of us are eager to socially distance in the great outdoors.
But with scenic walks comes the risk of tick-borne diseases, which increase during the summer months.
Ticks require blood to survive and can transfer disease, especially Lyme disease, from one feeding to another. But there are some actions you can take to protect yourself and your family this summer.
Ticks are attracted to carbon dioxide that we breathe, as well as body heat. They are generally found in warm places on the body and can nestle into the armpit, behind the ear, between the legs and behind the knees.
According to Public Health Ontario, early Lyme disease symptoms may include “fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and an expanding red rash.”
Often bites can go unnoticed until they are buried deep in the skin and become difficult to remove.
The best way to avoid bites is to use insect repellant.
Our American cousins can purchase clothing treated with Permethrin, an insecticide that’s effective against ticks, or a Permethrin spray (0.5% strength) for clothing.
Neither of these has been approved by Health Canada — even though the Canadian military has been using Permethrin since the 1980s, so you can’t buy them here.
However, you can purchase a (10%) Permethrin spray for agricultural-use in Canada, and some folks dilute it down for personal use.
Make sure to tuck your pant legs into your socks and wear proper clothes when walking outside. Some experts suggest light-coloured clothing, so you can easily see a tick on your clothes.
Stay in the middle of paths, away from the high grass and brush that may appear on the edges of your hiking trail.
Also stay out of un-cleared areas in and around the forest floor. These are natural habitats for ticks who prefer moist, damp areas to those exposed to the sun.
If you have pets, it is important to make sure that ticks aren’t being brought inside and consult your veterinarian for best practices and prevention. It’s also recommended to clear tick habitat from your yard.
If you get bitten by a tick, it should be removed as soon as possible.
Follow these instructions from the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure.
- Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers.
The G. Magnotta Foundation sells tick kits, and 100 per cent of their sales help support Lyme disease research at the University of Guelph.
The foundation was named for Gabe Magnotta, an Ontario vintner and co-founder of Magnotta Wines, who died of complications caused by Lyme disease in 2009.
To order a kit visit: www.gmagnottafoundation.com
For more information on how to prevent a bite, remove a tick, and treat your pet visit the CDC tick page at www.cdc.gov/ticks