February 26, 2015 - 8:30 AM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - This spring-like weather may have you enjoying the outdoors with a hike or two, but beware, ticks are already out in full force.
Hikers and dog owners are already reporting tick sightings, with one Kamloops-area hiker picking up nine in a single hike last week.
In the Southern Interior the most common tick species is the Rocky Mountain wood tick, which is about the size of a small pea. The deer tick is not common to the region but has been linked to Lyme disease in the area. These ticks start the size of a sesame seed but will grow to the size of a small pea when engorged with blood.
Tips for avoiding ticks
Walk on cleared trails wherever possible.
Wear light coloured clothing, tuck your shirt into your pants and tuck your pants into your boots or socks.
Put insect repellent containing DEET on all uncovered skin. Re-apply as frequently as directed on containers.
Check clothing and scalp (covered or not) when leaving an area where ticks may live.
Regularly check household pets for ticks.
After a hike
Do a visual check before climbing in your vehicle.
Isolate all jackets, bags and hats in the trunk or a box.
Put all clothes and gear possible in the washing machine immediately and the rest in an isolated spot like the basement where you can check again after any remaining ticks have climbed to the top.
How to safely remove ticks
Do not do anything that can stress or crush the tick’s body. This may cause it to inject its stomach contents into your blood. Instead follow these steps:
Using needle nose tweezers, gently grasp the tick close to the skin.
Without squeezing, pull the tick straight out.
Clean the area with soap and water and apply an antiseptic cream after removing the tick.
If you find one tick check very carefully for others.
Notify your doctor if you notice any rash or unusual health problems afterwards.
Do not use grease, alcohol or heat to remove the tick. Visit your doctor if the tick is difficult to remove.
If your pet has a tick use tweezers and gloves to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, gently pull straight out, and don't leave anything behind.
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