It is the time of year that woodticks take over our territory. Although finding a tick on you or your children is a common thing to experience in the Carolinian woodlands of our Grand River territory, ticks present a real risk for disease.
According to the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation there are 40 species of ticks in Canada but only a few carry the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium that causes Lyme Disease.
On Grand River territory the most common ticks found are the American Dog Tick. Thankfully these ticks are not normally associated with carrying the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium. However, black legged deer ticks are carriers of the Lyme bacterium and they are also found in the local area.
If you or your child have been bitten by a tick, doctors recommend keeping the insect in a plastic ziploc baggie after removal just in case you begin to demonstrate symptoms of infection. The tick can then be tested for carrying Lyme and treatment can begin earlier.
Lyme disease is one of the hardest to diagnose diseases in Canada and it is on the rise. Anyone who is lives or works nearby areas the wooded areas where ticks are found is at risk for contracting the disease.
While Lyme disease can be treated early, if left untreated it can cause serious and complex health issues.
Not all woodticks carry Lyme disease, but the population of infected backlogged ticks is growing – therefore experts say that the risk of contracting Lyme disease is rising.
You can reduce your risk of being bitten by a Lyme carrying woodtick by taking precautions during your outdoor activities this summer.
Wear long sleeved shirts, long pants and closed toe shoes when you are walking through the bush. Pull your socks up over your pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs.
Wear light coloured clothing to make it easier to notice a woodtick on you. Try using insect repellants that contain DEET or Icaridin. Repellants can be applied to clothing as well as exposed skin.
Make sure when you are back from your outdoor adventure that you do a full body check for ticks on yourself, your children and your pets. Additionally, bathing or showering within a few hours of being outdoors can also wash away any loose ticks.
According to Health Canada, if you do find a tick biting you, removing it within 24-36 hours of the bite usually will prevent infection.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease vary widely from person to person. Some of the symptoms include fatigue, fever, headaches, spasms, weakness, numbness or tingling, swollen lymph nodes, skin rashes, cognitive dysfunction, dizziness, brain fog, nervous system disorders, arthritis, muscle pain, and an abnormal heartbeat.
The entire list of possible symptoms are part of what makes the Lyme diagnoses a hard sell to doctors and many who are infected heading to a variety of specialists for complex medical issues. Not every Lyme patient will experience the characteristic bull’s eye rash, while some will experience a fever and skin rash soon after being bitten.
Undiagnosed Lyme disease can present any number of these symptoms over a period of many years and the canadian medical officials admit that they are still learning much about the disease itself.
Lyme itself is from the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium entering the bloodstream. And because it can first present in either the early, mid or late stage of the disease – diagnosis is tricky. This is why prevention and awareness are so important in combatting Lyme disease in our territory.
For more information on Lyme Disease you can also contact the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation at www.canlyme.com.