Ticks and Lyme Disease Newsletter
The warm, dry weather we have been experiencing this summer has contributed to an influx of ticks in Ontario. Black legged ticks (AKA deer ticks) are the primary vectors of the Lyme disease bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. These insects have been found in the Greater GTA and beyond. Ticks are found mostly in heavily wooded areas – be particularly careful in long grasses and wooded areas. Be sure to check your pets as well as yourself if you do go into these areas.
Preventing Tick Bites:
- Conduct a full body tick check after leaving a heavily wooded or tall grass area – be sure to check yourself, your children, and your pets. If your pets have short hair, using a lint roller can help!
- Pay close attention to: scalp, ankles, arm pits, groin, navel, and behind ear & knees
- Wear pants and long sleeved shirts with tight cuffs.
- Wear light coloured clothing to better identify and spot ticks.
- Pull socks over pant legs when walking through tall grasses.
What to do if you Spot a Tick:
- Remove the tick immediately using fine tipped tweezers.
- Be sure to remove the head of the tick
- If the tick seems to be quite swollen go directly to the hospital for removal.
- Keep the tick in a sealed container and take it to your favourite healthcare practitioner so that it can be tested by Public Health and monitored.
- Thoroughly clean the area with rubbing alcohol and/or soap & water.
- DO NOT:
- Squeeze the body of the insect as this can let the Lyme disease bacteria in to the body / blood stream
- Put anything on the tick or try to burn it as this can also let the Lyme disease into the body / blood stream and can also harm you.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease: usually begin around 1-2 weeks after infection but can begin 3 days – 30 days after a bite
- Characteristic bulls eye rash – red bite mark surrounded by rings of swollen , red skin
- Muscle and joint pain
- Spasms, numbness and tingling
- Facial paralysis
- Swollen glands
- Profound fatigue
- The bite itself is usually painless – so that is why it is so important to do a full body check
- If untreated – very serious symptoms such as:
- Cardiac symptoms including heart palpitations
- Extreme fatigue with generalized full body weakness
- Central and peripheral nervous system disorders including paralysis, spasms, numbness & tingling
Treatment of Lyme Disease: It is always best to start treatment quickly to prevent long term complications.
- There are effective antibiotic treatments for Lyme disease
- There are also many effective natural treatments to help with the associated symptoms of the disease and to improve the efficacy of the pharmaceutical treatment.