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How to properly get rid of ticks and avoid getting bit in the first place

Deer ticks, also known as black-legged ticks, are on the rise in Manitoba.
Deer ticks, also known as black-legged ticks, are on the rise in Manitoba. AP Photo / Victoria Arocho

As the weather continues to warm up and people head off to campgrounds, you’re going to want to keep a lookout for ticks.

Wood ticks are already out in forested areas, and some black-legged ticks (aka deer ticks, they’re the bad ones) have been spotted.

If you go for a stroll through the woods, Manitoba Health wants you to check yourself or get someone elsewhen you get out.

“Only about 30 per cent of people actually realize they got bit. That’s not so good,” explains Dr. Richard Rusk, medical officer of health for communicable diseases. “Classic symptoms are rashes, fever, muscle aches, joint aches, you’re feeling pretty lousy, like you have the flu but without any coughing. If you notice any of these, see your physician right away.”

Dr. Rusk says the only proper way to get rid of a tick if you spot one on you is to use tweezers. The University of Manitoba made a great demonstration video which you can watch here.

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As for other tick removal theories, Dr. Rusk says those are filled with risk.

“There are people that put a match to them or cover them with Vaseline or some peppermint oil. The risk there is that if that deer tick is actually carrying the bacteria, you’re giving it a chance to pass that bacteria onto you.”

Dr. Rusk advises that you could entice the tick to regurgitate the bacteria into you by removing it improperly.

If you’re heading into the woods, you can wear light-coloured clothing that covers up the skin so you can better see any ticks that climb aboard. You can also tuck your pants into your socks or use DEET.