OHS Canada Magazine

Canadians not the only ones loving spring weather: Tips on keeping ticks in check

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May 19, 2023
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Outdoor Workers Ticks

Photo: Adobe Stock

Canadians aren’t the only ones loving the warmer spring weather — the ticks are also basking in the sun and are out in force.

That’s prompting reminders for outdoor workers to take extra precautions to prevent tick bites and reduce the risk of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

Lyme disease is a potentially serious infection that comes from being bitten by an infected blacklegged tick, commonly known as a deer tick. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and an expanding circular rash that resembles a bulls-eye. Ticks commonly live in wooded areas, tall grasses, and bushes and can be found almost anywhere, including city gardens and parks.

Preventing bites

The Ontario government recently posted some advice on preventing tick bites. This includes:

  • wearing light-coloured clothing, so it’s easier to spot ticks
  • wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants tucked into your socks, and closed-toed shoes
  • using an insect repellent with DEET or icaridin in it
  • checking yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks after being outdoors. Any ticks found should be removed promptly
  • putting clothes on high heat in a dryer for at least 10 minutes before washing clothing after spending time outdoors

“We are seeing an increase in cases of Lyme and other diseases transmitted by ticks in line with other jurisdictions,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s chief medical officer of health. “Simple, precautionary measures can reduce the risk of getting bitten by a tick. This includes being vigilant in wooded or grassy areas, even in your backyard, and doing routine tick checks after enjoying the outdoors.”


What to do if you find a tick

Ticks are very small and hard to see. When a tick is found, it should be removed immediately using fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Once the tick has been removed, wash the area with soap and water and then disinfect the area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or an iodine swab.

If you have any health concerns after a tick bite, consult a health care provider as soon as possible. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

There have been over 3,000 cases of Lyme disease in Ontario since 2021. If left untreated, Lyme disease can make you feel tired and weak. In severe cases, it can affect your heart, nerves, liver, and joints, and, in very rare cases, cause death.

While ticks are most active in spring and summer, they can be found during any time of the year when the temperature is above freezing.


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