Warmer weather not only means more time spent outdoors in Saskatchewan, it brings an increased risk for tick bites.
Ticks are typically out from early spring until October, and can be found in tall grass, brush or wooded areas.
The risk for Lyme disease is low in Saskatchewan, health officials said, but not zero.
Lyme disease is an infectious disease spread by black-legged ticks, however, most ticks found in Saskatchewan are the American dog tick. Officials said this species is not capable of spreading Lyme disease to people.
As of the end of December 2018, 28,899 ticks have been collected and identified in Saskatchewan. Of those, only 71 were black-legged ticks, and 10 tested positive for the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health urges people to take precautions when outside.
“We want people to enjoy the summer weather, but it’s important to take precautions against ticks,” said Dr. Denise Werker, the province’s deputy chief medical health officer.
“It’s also important that after spending time outside to check yourself and your children and pets for ticks, and if you find a tick, remove it carefully and promptly.”
Precautionary measures include:
- Wearing pants, long-sleeved shirts and shoes that don’t show your feet.
- Pulling socks over your pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs.
- Wearing light-coloured clothes so ticks can be seen easily.
- Using insect repellents that contain DEET or Icaridin, which should be applied to clothes as well as skin.
- Showering or bathing as soon as possible after being outside to wash off loose ticks.
- Doing a “full body” tick check after being outside on yourself, your children and your pets.
READ MORE: Insect repellent – does natural beat DEET?
If a tick is found attached to your skin:
- Carefully remove it with fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the mouth of the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- Pull slowly upward and out with a firm steady pressure.
- Be careful not to squeeze, crush or puncture the body after removal as this may also contain infectious fluids.
More information from the Saskatchewan government on ticks and Lyme disease, and how to submit a tick for testing, can be found online.