The Gleaner

Look out for ticks – they can be ‘as small as a poppy seed’

Many Quebecers are making plans to enjoy the rest of spring and summer outdoors. With tick season running from now until October, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is urging people to take precautions against ticks while out on trails and in forests.

Blacklegged ticks (also called deer ticks) can carry various bacterial diseases that are harmful to humans such as Lyme disease, which can be contracted from a tick bite. Reports of Lyme-carrying ticks are spreading in Canada, and these ticks are becoming more common in Quebec. They hide in the shade, in wooded areas, and in long grasses, and can be carried from place to place by migratory birds.

Claude Drolet, the NCC stewardship manager in Quebec, says people shouldn’t be afraid of going outdoors, as spending time in nature is good for our physical and mental well-being. However, Drolet recommends that people who live, work, or visit natural areas take steps to minimize the risk of exposure from tick bites.

“Wear bug repellant containing DEET, long sleeves, light-coloured clothing, tuck everything in, including your pants into your socks, stay in the middle of trails, take a bath or shower after a hike and always check your clothes and body for ticks after a hike because they can be as small as a poppy seed,” he says.

After spending any time outdoors, check your body, gear, and pets for ticks before going indoors. The first sign you may see of a tick bite can be a black lump; more seriously, a bull’s-eye target-shaped rash may appear. Lyme-infected people may also develop flu-like symptoms. The disease is treatable with antibiotics, and early treatment almost always results in full recovery.

To remove a tick, use tweezers to gently grasp the tick’s head and mouth as close to your skin as possible. Gently pull the tick straight out. Do not jerk, twist, or squash it. Do not apply matches, cigarettes, or petroleum jellies to the tick as these may cause it to release bacteria into the wound.
The Government of Canada encourages people to submit their ticks to a public health laboratory for testing, if possible. To learn more, visit the Canada Public Health Agency, or call Info-Santé Québec at 811 for guidance. (RP)

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