Springtime is tick-time
KELOWNA–Warming weather has Okanagan residents heading outdoors, onto hiking trails and into the woods.
Interior Health is warning that now is the time when ticks begin scurrying and they can pose a real danger to your family and your pets.
Ticks like to hang out in tall grass and wooded areas. People are advised to cover up and tuck in clothing where ticks could make their way into openings.
After returning home from a day outdoors, you should check your family and your pets for ticks.
“The most common tick species in the Interior Health region is the Wood Tick (Dermacentor andersoni), which is not known to carry the Lyme disease bacteria, said Dr. Silvina Mema, Medical Health Officer with Interior Health. “The Wood Tick can carry other diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, although it is very rare. Some ticks also have toxins that can cause temporary muscle weakness and paralysis but the symptoms fade once the tick is removed.”
The tick species that carries Lyme disease (Ixodes pacificus) is more common in the coastal areas of B.C., but may also be present in low numbers in areas within Interior Health. Less than one per cent of Ixodes ticks in B.C. carry Lyme disease. In addition to fever, headache, and muscle pain, people infected with Lyme disease will often develop a rash that looks like a “bull’s eye” target and expands from the site of the tick 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,” added Dr. Mema. “It is important to watch for signs of tick-transmitted illnesses. Signs of many tick-borne infections can be quite similar and include fever, headache, muscle pain, and rash. Anyone who experiences a bulls-eye rash or other symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible.”
Other precautions include:
• 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.
To reduce ticks from entering your home and yard, try these steps:
• 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.
If you do find a tick attached to you, your family or a pet, Interior Health advises you wear gloves and remove it with tweezers. Gently grasp the tick close to the skin and pull it stratight out without squeezing.
When it’s been removed, clean the bite with soap and water.
If you have concerns or need assistance removing a tick, you can contact your family doctor or visit a walk-in clinic.
More information is available at:
• Ticks and Lyme Disease – Interior Health: https://www.interiorhealth.ca/YourEnvironment/CommunicableDiseaseControl/Pages/Ticks.aspx
• HealthLink BC file: http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile01.stm
• Tick Talk – BC Centre for Disease Control : http://www.bccdc.ca/dis-cond/a-z/_l/LymeDisease/ticktalk/ticktalkvideos/TickTalkVideoEnglish.htm