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Ticked off: How to protect against ticks

Spring means tick time in the Interior.
Image Credit: SOURCE/Wikipedia
April 28, 2014 - 1:05 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN — Warmer weather is upon us and that means shorts, sandals and maybe even a hike or two, but you may want to stop and rethink wardrobe choices if you're heading out.

It's also tick season.

“Ticks are most often found in tall grass and wooded areas so covering up before you head outdoors and checking for ticks on yourself, your children, and your pets after being outdoors are simple things that go a long way to prevent tick bites,” Interior Health Communicable Disease Specialist Jennifer Jeyes said.

While most bites do not result in illness there are still several diseases that can be transmitted by ticks. In the Interior Health region the most common tick is the Dermacentor andersoni (wood tick) which is known to carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever but not Lyme disease. Temporary muscle weakness and paralysis can also occur (in humans and pets) while the tick is attached because of toxins, but will fade once the tick is removed.

Ixodes pacificus, the tick known to carry Lyme disease, is more common in the coastal areas but has been found in the Interior region as well. Aside from fever, headaches and muscle pain people infected with the disease will often develop a 'bull’s-eye’ rash at the site of the bite.

“Most tick bites do not result in illness; however, all tick bites should be cleaned, as infection can occur whenever there is a break in the skin,” Jeyes said. “It is important to watch for signs of tick-transmitted illnesses. Anyone who experiences a bull’s-eye rash or other symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible.”

If you find a tick on yourself, a family member, or pet, wear gloves and gently remove it. Needle-nose tweezers can be used to gently grasp the tick close to the skin. Without squeezing, pull the tick straight out. Be careful not to crush the tick as this could cause it to inject its stomach contents into your skin. After removal, clean the area with soap and water. If you have concerns or need assistance removing a tick, please contact your family doctor or visit a walk-in medical clinic

Take precautions:
- Walking on cleared trails when in tall grass or wooded areas.
- Wearing a hat, long sleeves,, pants, and light-coloured clothing.
- Tucking pant legs into socks or boots.
- Applying insect repellent containing DEET on uncovered skin.
- Carefully checking clothing and scalp (covered or not) when leaving an area where ticks may live.
- Having a shower after returning from areas where ticks may live.

Reduce ticks from entering your home and yard:
- Keep your lawn short and remove any fallen leaves and weeds.
- Keep a buffer area such as wood-chip or gravel border between your lawn and wooded areas or
stone walls. Any play equipment or play zones should be kept away from wooded areas.
- Trim tree branches to allow more sunlight in your yard.
- Keep wood piles and bird feeders away from the house.
- Widen and maintain trails on your property.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infotelnews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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