Tick talk

by Meredith MacKeen

Ticks and Lyme disease are an unfortunate reality in this area, and it is worthwhile to learn about precautions to take. To date there is no vaccine or set treatment. Prevention is the best medicine.

“Humans, dogs, horses, but not cats, can contract Lyme disease (borrelia burgdorferi)” says Dr. Luc Lemaître of Veterinary Services Mountainview in West Brome and “dogs are much more likely than humans to contract it.” The usual carrier is the black-legged tick or deer tick. Ticks climb onto their hosts. Only infected nymph and adult ticks can transmit Lyme disease; most ticks are not carriers. As our area presents a moderately high risk for contracting this bacterial infection, extra precautions are a must. Dogs should be vaccinated against the disease.

Getting ready

When planning to walk or work in tall grass, bushes or the woods, wearing light coloured clothing, long sleeves, pant legs tucked into socks and sturdy footwear will help, as will insect repellents. Kadeja Lefebvre, a naturopath with a special interest in Lyme disease, suggests those with a high percentage of Icaridin, IR3535, lemon of eucalyptus, or DEET. Permethrin, a repellent that must not be rubbed on the skin, can be applied to clothing or even camping gear; it remains effective through many washings.

Tick check

Stick to trails and do a body check upon returning home. Use a mirror for the hard to see spots and put clothes in the drier on high for an hour to kill any ticks that may have attached themselves. Jump in the shower and scrub the whole body. Outdoor pets should be brushed daily and, preferably, not allowed in your bedroom. They can bring ticks into the house. Ticks can be found on 300 different animals including 60 different types of bird.

Tick remover

Tick removal

“Learn proper removal methods to avoid squeezing the tick into releasing some fluids into you or your dog. Tick removers are available at your vet or in pet shops. Go after the tick in a motion like removing a nail with the claw of a hammer; do this slowly since the point is to strangle the tick and make it want to release its hold on you and be easy to remove. Removing the body too fast can leave the head in the skin.

Other useful facts

Only 9% of infected tick bites produce a bull’s eye rash, 50% don’t produce any rash. That the tick must be latched on for 24 – 48 hours before the bacteria can be transmitted is a myth. Depending on the strain of bacteria, it can take but a few hours. Initial Lyme disease symptoms can take up to a month to appear, depending on your immune system and where the bacteria settles into your body. It is best to see your doctor forthwith.

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