What with the winter being very mild and the spring already having topped 26 C in our area, the ticks are back. We know because one was found on a child at our school last week. So, time to talk about them again….
Ticks are small creatures which will attach themselves to your skin, bite and drink your blood. Many of them are happy to attach to humans, dogs or other animals. There are about 20 species in BC, but only 3 will bite humans. Oh, and they can’t fly or jump!
- Cover up before you go out. This may include long sleeves & full length trousers. Consider some kind of cap or hat. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots.
- Consider insect repellant on bare skin.
- When you return, check yourself and your companions for ticks – including your scalp.
- Walk on well cleared trails where possible.
- Avoid narrow trails which are obvious game routes.
- Keep lawns short & yard free from leaves & weeds.
- Keep play equipment away from words & forested areas.
Treatment for Ticks
- If you do find a tick, brush it off. If it hasn’t started biting, that’s all you need to do.
- If you find one, check carefully for others
- If the tick is already biting, use pointed tweezers. Grasp as close to the skin as you can and pull it straight out.
- Try not to crush or damage the tick. If you want it testing for Lyme Disease it needs to be alive.
- Clean the bite (soap & water is fine) – it’s still a bite after all!
There are a whole bunch of other methods for removing them. If you have one that works, comment below so we can all learn. Avoid removal methods which risk harming yourself or child e.g.: burning them off with gasoline.
- As far as BC goes, ticks carrying Lyme Disease are more common in coastal BC than the interior. But, well… people travel and ticks can hitch a ride on your dog.
- About 3/4 of people infected with Lyme Disease will develop the bulls-eye (or Target) rash. But that means 1/4 won’t – don’t use this as your only symptom.
- Other symptoms include fever, headache, joint aches & pains.
- If you have the rash or other symptoms, time to see your doctor. In the early stages Lyme Disease is completely treatable.
- Locally (coastal BC) some docs will treat everyone who was bitten, others will try to have the tick tested first.
- Untreated Lyme Disease can cause arthritis, heart problems, nervous system disorders and all kinds of nastiness. Deal with it early!
Get outside and have fun! Just be aware of what can happen.
Healthlink BC includes tick information in various languages besides English