May 20,

Be Tick Smart: Prevention & Precautions

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Be Tick Smart: Prevention & Precautions

How can I be “Tick Smart”?

Be Tick SmartThe key to preventing Lyme disease is doing what you can to protect yourself and your home.  Since ticks can potentially travel to all areas of the province, it is important to be safe when entering any wooded area, especially those with documented tick populations.  When entering these areas be sure to take the following personal precautions:

  1. 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.
  2. Wear light coloured clothing.  Ticks are more visible on light coloured materials.  This will help you see and remove the tick.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Take a shower as soon as you can after being outdoors to wash off any ticks crawling on you.
  8. 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.

It is also important to be “tick smart” around your house, especially if you live near a wooded area.  Ticks need a humid environment to survive and this can be created by plant debris and litter.  Therefore, keep your lawn neatly mowed and remove leaf debris on a regular basis.  This helps to reduce humidity in your yard and lowers your risk of coming across a tick.

Venturing into tick habitat? Don’t forget to pack a safe tick removal kit this summer.

How do I remove a tick?

Tick Removal

If you are bitten by a tick, be sure to stay calm, but remove the tick immediately. Follow the steps below to safely remove a tick from your body:

  1. Remove the tick using a pair of clean, fine-tipped tweezers. Never use fire, chemicals or alcohol to remove a tick.
  2. Holding the tweezers parallel to the skin, firmly grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible, around the mouthparts of the tick, and gently pull the tick straight out.
  3. Do not twist or squeeze the tick because this may cause the mouth parts to break off and stay in the skin. Squeezing may also cause the Lyme disease-causing bacterium to enter the body.
  4. Wash the area where the tick was removed with soap and water and/or disinfect with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
  5. If the mouthparts break off and remain in the skin, remove them with tweezers, or if you are unable to remove them easily, leave them alone and let the skin heal.
  6. If you are not comfortable removing a tick, see a health care provider as soon as possible. If the tick is removed soon after attachment, it will help to prevent infection, as an infected tick has to be feeding for at least 24 hours before it can effectively transmit the bacteria to a human host.
  7. Once the tick has been removed, place the tick in an empty pill bottle or plastic zipper-closed bag and bring it to Peterborough Public Health. Make sure to record the date of attachment and the likely location where the tick came from. The tick will then be sent away to the Ontario Public Health Laboratory for species identification and bacterial testing.
  8. If you develop symptoms of Lyme disease in the weeks (3-30 days) after being bitten, contact your health care provider right away.

For information on submitting a tick please see “Submit a Tick”

Last modified on Jul 08, 2016