It’s tick season! The time of year these little guys are out and about and looking for their next meal . . . and they are not particular to whom they will attach themselves, humans and pets alike. Ticks can live in grassy & wooded areas and although they don’t jump or fly they seek to find their way onto people and animals by waiting in a position for you to ‘brush by’. They then grab on. Ticks bite to feed on blood. While Lyme disease is still fairly rare in Alberta, ticks still can and do carry Lyme causing bacteria and can carry a host of other tick borne diseases. So it’s best to be tick aware and know how to avoid them and what to do if you find a tick on yourself or you pet.
- When hiking and walking, seek to use well cleared trails free of tall grasses and low hanging trees and bushes.
- Wear light coloured clothing, long sleeves, and pants (tuck into boots or socks)
- Perform a tick check on yourself (or have a friend check you while you check your friend) and pets after time in grassy or wooded areas.
- Shower within 2 hours of coming home- another great time to re-tick check.
- Check all your bags and clothing before bringing things indoors. Pets too! Placing items in the dryer for 10 minutes on high, longer if they are damp, can kill any small ticks you may have missed.
- Use of a repellent may offer some protection. Conventionally, a DEET, IR3535 or picaridin containing formula are recommended for exposed skin (not eyes or mouth), and clothing may be treated with .5% permethrin. A 30% lemon eucalyptus formula does help reduce deer tick bites.
- Aiming for a natural approach, avoidance is key with clothing options and tick checks. See more tips on avoidance on the CDCs website. Mosi-Q reports some efficiency at preventing tick bites, but this has not been studied.
- Using tweezers, gently grasp the tick as close to the host’s skin as possible.
- Without squishing the tick or jerking or twisting it (to avoid breaking it and leaving pieces behind in the skin), lift it straight up and out of the skin.
- Clean the bite area with soap and water and follow with an antiseptic or rubbing alcohol.
When to see a Doctor:
- if round red rash appears around bite location, often referred to as a ‘bull’s eye’
- if flu-like symptoms present. Such as fever, headache, aching muscles and joints, fatigue, nausea, or weakness.
Submit ticks for testing:
- Save the tick in a clean container with lid (do not make ventilation holes).
- Lightly wet a small cotton ball with water and place in container with specimen. This will stop the tick from drying out.
Submit the tick for testing as soon as possible to one of the following:
- Alberta Health Services Environmental Health Office – make appointment first. Southland Park III – Main Reception 10301 Southport Lane SW, Calgary, Alberta T2W 3N2; 403-943-2400 A complete list of AHS offices that accept ticks is found here.
- First Nations Health Centre – if you live in a first nations community, contact your local health centre.
- Veterinarian (if found on an animal). Call your local vet to inquire if they will submit a tick for testing.
- Medical Doctor