Insects are a sign of spring but there is one insect in particular this year to keep an eye on – ticks and the threat they have to carry and spread Lyme Disease.
Lyme disease is an infection caused by a bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. Not all ticks carry Lyme disease. In Ontario, Lyme disease is spread by the bite of a black-legged tick, commonly known as the deer tick. Most humans are infected through the bite of an immature tick called a nymph, which is very small and are most active in the spring. Adult ticks are larger and active during the late summer and fall.
Since Ottawa is now considered an at-risk area for Lyme disease, it is important to contact your doctor if you believe a tick has been attached to you for 24 or more hours, or if you are unsure how long the tick has been attached to you, so that your doctor can determine if you need treatment with antibiotics. Tick keys are a great tool for removing ticks and are available for sale at local retailers. Treatment with antibiotics would be considered when:
- the tick has been attached for 24 or more hours or is fully or partially engorged and
- it has been less than or equal to 72 hours since the tick has been removed.
If the tick was attached for less than 24 hours and its body does not appear swollen from feeding or if you removed a tick and more than 72 hours have passed, you should still be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of Lyme disease for the next 30 days. If you do develop symptoms, consult your health care provider.
Once again, Ottawa Public Health has put together Lyme disease “kits”, which are available for pickup free of charge (while supplies last; quantities are limited; one tick kit per household) at my ward office in the Goulbourn Recreation Complex for your information, use and distribution. Each “kit” includes a Lyme disease factsheet, which offers details related to the symptoms of Lyme Disease, tick removal processes, testing protocols and ways to prevent tick bites. The kits also include a tick key, which is designed to help remove any tick that may have attached themselves to a person, a family member, friend or pet.
I encourage all residents to be prepared for what to do in case you find a tick attached to you or your pets.
The government of Canada has also prepared a useful video to help protect yourself and your family from ticks carrying lyme disease which is available below:
For more information on ticks and removal of an imbedded tick please visit Ottawa.ca\LymeDisease.