/How to identify and avoid blacklegged ticks 

How to identify and avoid blacklegged ticks 

It’s that time of the year when we need to watch out for deer ticks, also known as blacklegged ticks, which can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
In some people, Lyme disease can bring on recurring arthritis, neurological problems, numbness or paralysis if treatment is not sought.
“With blacklegged ticks present in much of southern Ontario, including Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha, it’s important to take precautions wherever and whenever you’re outside,” said Richard Ovcharovich, manager of health protection with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “Just like mosquitoes, blacklegged ticks are another pest to avoid at this time of year.”
Ticks attach to the skin, feeding on the host’s blood. The longer a tick feeds, the greater the risk of Lyme disease, the health unit says.
HKPR District Health Unit tips to avoid blacklegged ticks and reduce the risk of Lyme disease:
Apply bug spray containing DEET on your skin and clothing
Wear closed-toe shoes, long-sleeved shirts and pants
Pull socks over your pant legs if possible
Stay on marked trails when walking in a nature area.
Keep ticks away from your property. Cut grass short and trim bushes/branches to let in sunlight
Check yourself for ticks after being outside. Shower as soon as you can to wash off any ticks. Put your clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill any ticks that may be attached
If you notice a tick on your body, remove it as soon as possible. A health unit video found at www.hkpr.on.ca can show you how to do this. If using a tick removal product, follow manufacturer’s directions. If using finely-tipped tweezers, grasp the head of the tick as close to the skin as possible.
Pull it slowly, straight out. Immediately after, wash the bite area with soap and water, or alcohol-based sanitizer.
Seek medical attention if a blacklegged tick has been attached for more than 24 hours or looks like it’s been feeding for some time. You should also see a health care provider if you have symptoms of Lyme disease like a skin rash, fever, headache and muscle/joint pain. If detected early, Lyme can be treated successfully with antibiotics. NOTE: During COVID-19, call your health care provider first to ask how to get care. If you are self-isolating for any reason due to COVID-19, call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or the health unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020 for more guidance.
Medical testing of ticks may still be ordered by doctors, however, the health unit is no longer accepting ticks for testing as of 2020. Previously, they had been testing for surveillance purposes, but no longer need to do so because
blacklegged ticks are now known to be present throughout Ontario, a press release from the health unit says.
To identify ticks: go to the free eTick website (www.etick.ca). There you can upload a photo of the tick and within 48 hours will be notified if it is a blacklegged tick. This may help in deciding whether to see a health-care professional. Private labs will also test ticks for Lyme disease for a fee. The health unit can refer people to those labs.
– Staff