With COVID-19 restrictions beginning to ease, public health officials are reminding everyone to take extra care this summer and fall to prevent tick bites, especially in forested areas or where there is tall grass, weeds, or shrubs.
Black-legged ticks that can carry Lyme disease are known to live in Central and Eastern Ontario, Peterborough Public Health Director of Public Health Programs Donna Churipuy reminded.
“Preventing them from landing on you when you go outside, and knowing what to do if you find one, is important information that will help keep you and your family healthy,” she stated in a press release.
App available to ID ticks
Species confirmation is always the first step since not all ticks carry Lyme disease, Churipuy said, pointing out how the new eTick app helps with that. “It allows anyone with a smart phone to snap a photo of a tick and upload it directly to the website to receive a species identification.”
Once successfully submitted, results are available within 48 hours. Real-time mapping of tick submissions is also shown on the website. The app is available for download from the website www.etick.ca.
If you have been bitten by a black-legged tick, also known as a deer tick, public health officials recommend you speak with your health care provider.
How to thwart ticks
Peterborough Public Health offered the following prevention tips:
Wear long clothing when outdoors. This includes long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks. Shirts should be tucked into pants and pants tucked into socks.
Wear light-coloured clothing. Ticks are more visible on light-coloured materials. This will help you see and remove the tick.
Use an insect repellent containing DEET. Apply insect repellent sparingly to your clothing and exposed skin to keep ticks away. Do not apply bug repellent under clothing and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
When hiking be sure to keep to the middle of the trail to minimize your contact with tall grasses and bushes. These are potential spots where ticks can be found.
Check your clothing and entire body for ticks after returning from being outdoors. Pay special attention to hidden areas like the groin, armpit, scalp, and back of the knee. You can use a mirror to do this or have someone help you.
Check pets for ticks because pets can also pick ticks up from outdoor areas. Although Lyme disease cannot be passed from a pet to a human, animals can bring ticks into your home. It is important to check your pets regularly.
Take a shower as soon as you can after being outdoors to wash off any ticks crawling on you.
Place outdoor clothing through the dryer cycle for 60 minutes on high heat before washing. Ticks thrive in wet environments and will not survive the heat of the dryer.