It is no secret by now that the number of Lyme Disease carrying Blacklegged Ticks, or Deer Ticks, are on the rise in Ontario. With Ottawa and the surrounding areas being in a ‘hot zone’ for the disease it is important to be educated on what to do if you encounter a tick this summer. Don’t let the fear of ticks keep you from enjoying a summer of fun outside – if you know what to look for and how to deal with them you can confidently head out into the woods.
Before Going Out
- Cover up. Wear long pants that can be tightened at the bottom or tucked into socks, opt for long sleeve tops when possible.
- Keep clothing colours light. The lighter the colour of your clothing the easier it will be to spot a tick.
- Use bug spray. The only effective bug repellents for ticks are those that contain between 15% and 30% DEET. All of our bug repellents fall into this percentage range.
- Know what you are looking for. Ticks are surprisingly small, below is a diagram of the different stages of Blacklegged ticks.
During Your Adventures
- Follow instructions. Make sure to read the label on your bug repellent to know how often it must be reapplied to be effective.
- Stay on the path. Whenever possible keep to existing trails and avoid tall grassy areas known to be tick havens.
- Be prepared. Carry a pair of tweezers or a tick removal tool in your hiking pack to be safe.
When You Get Home
- Clean up. As soon as you get home throw your clothes in the dryer on high heat for a minimum of 60 minutes to kill any ticks clinging to them. Taking a shower will also help remove any ticks that may be moving around on your skin.
- Check yourself. Use a handheld mirror to do a tick check of all the hard to see spots for any attached ticks.
What To Do If You Have a Burrowed Tick On You
- Grab a tool. When using tweezers get as close to your skin as possible grasp the tick and pull straight out. If using a Tick Wrangler rest the largest part of the opening over the tick on the skin, slide the Wrangler along the skin so the narrow part of the opening slides under the tick’s head. Continue to move the Wrangler slightly up and away from the skin to remove the entire tick, including the head.
- When to seek medical attention. If you find a tick on you that is engorged and/or was removed unsuccessfully (the head separated from the body), has been there for more than 24 hours, or you are unsure how long it’s been attached head to a physician.
- Call 3-1-1. If you find a tick in the Ottawa area you are encouraged to call 3-1-1 to make an appointment to drop it off for testing. Results from these tests help map areas with higher risk of Lyme.