Ticks and Lyme disease
Found in over 65 countries in the northern hemisphere, Lyme disease has been present in Quebec and Canada for several years.
Ixodes scapularis, the tick responsible for spreading the infection, can be found in forests, wooded areas, and tall grass. When it feeds on an animal infected by Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, the tick then becomes infected and can transmit the disease to the animals it bites.
In 2018, the Institut national de la santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) inspected Terra-Cotta Natural Park for ticks. The ticks collected were sent to a lab for analysis. It was determined that the Ixodes scapularis tick, which is responsible for the transmission of Lyme disease, was not present in the park. You should still take precautionary measures, however, given that there are other tick species in the park.
Here are the measures to take during outdoor activities to limit the risk of getting a tick bite:
- Stay on cleared paths.
- Avoid tall grass.
- Wear light-coloured clothing to help spot ticks quickly and remove them.
- Wear a hat, pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and closed shoes. Tuck your shirt into your pants and tuck your pants into your socks or boots.
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin to keep ticks away.
- After an outdoor activity, make sure there are no ticks attached to your body. Pay close attention to hair and ears.
- Put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for at least six (6) minutes to get rid of ticks. If your clothes need to be washed, use hot water and a 40-minute cycle, then put them in the dryer for at least six (6) minutes.
To prevent Lyme disease, take action to avoid tick bites!
In case of a tick bite
If you spot a tick:
- Remove it from the base with a clean pair of tweezers, without crushing it.
- Wash the bite with soap and water. Disinfect the wound with an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Keep the tick in a sealed container in the refrigerator and bring it with you if you need to see a doctor.
The risk of getting an infection is low if the tick remains on the skin for less than 24 hours. You should still watch for symptoms that can occur 3 to 30 days after the bite. In 80% of infection cases, redness will appear in the days or weeks following the bite. An infected person can also show flu-like symptoms, such as a headache, fever, fatigue, or joint pain. If you have been bitten by a tick and recognize some of these symptoms, consult a doctor.
The infection can be treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause joint, heart, and neurological disorders. The sooner the disease is diagnosed, the more likely treatment will be effective!
What about your pet?
Pets can carry ticks inside your house and garden. To prevent the risk of getting a bite:
- Keep your pets on a leash in parks;
- Examine your pet to avoid ticks coming into your house;
- If you find ticks on your pet, remove them carefully and consult a veterinarian.
- You cannot get an infection from your pet.
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