Fall is a great time for outdoor walks, hikes; but check for ticks, says EOHU

The fall season is upon us, providing ideal conditions for outdoor walks and hikes on our terrific nature trails, but the Eastern Ontario Health Unit reminds you to be on guard for ticks.

A tick (stock photo courtesy of pixabay.com)

Trails are in abundance in our region, and so are these pesky insects, some of which carry diseases, such as Lyme, that can affect humans.

The EOHU tells us, “Lyme disease is a serious illness that can be spread to people by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks). Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, symptoms can last from months to years and can cause serious health problems. Blacklegged ticks live in woodlands, tall grasses and bushes, and are found throughout Ontario – including the five eastern counties. The number of infected blacklegged ticks is increasing each year.”

It’s worth noting that not all ticks, including all blacklegged ticks, carry the Lyme-disease-causing bacteria. Nonetheless, it’s important to take mitigation measures before your hike and to do a tick check afterwards.

Among the suggestions from the EOHU…

  • Wear light-coloured clothing. It makes ticks easier to spot.
  • Wear closed footwear, socks, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Tuck your shirt into your pants, and tuck your pants into your socks.
  • Use an insect repellent that has DEET or Icaridin on clothes and exposed skin (be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s directions).

When completing your tick check, “If you find a tick on your body, remove it as soon as possible. The risk of getting Lyme disease increases with the length of time the tick remains attached to your body.” You should then monitor the site where the tick was attached to your body, if it was, and watch, over the next few weeks, for any symptoms of Lyme. Treatment with topical antibiotics is usually only needed if the tick has been engorged for more that 24 hours.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include…

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Spasms
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Facial paralysis
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen glands
  • Expanding skin rash (however, many people never get or see a rash)

For more information, please see this section of the EOHU website.

If you find a tick and are curious to learn more about its identification, there is an online submission tool. You can access it here.

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