Tick season is upon us, and a recent report by the Public Health Agency of Canada adds that climate change is increasing the population and spread of the bug. With the increase in Tick populations comes the risk and fear of tick borne diseases. Ticks are small insect-like parasites that feed on the blood of animals, including humans. When they feed on animals such as deer mice, squirrels, birds and other small animals, they can pick up bacteria then pass the bacteria to humans by biting us. Although ticks can be active throughout much of the year, your risk of disease is greatest during the summer months when younger ticks are most active.
Prompt removal of ticks from your skin will help prevent infection. Using fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool, carefully grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Pull it straight out, gently but firmly. Don’t squeeze the tick. Thoroughly cleanse the bite site with rubbing alcohol and/or soap and water.
While most people think about Lyme disease from ticks (and it is a valid concern), other diseases such as anaplasmosis and babeiosis are on the rise. CDC reports a huge rise in cases in the Northern United States. Canadian experts concur that the incidence of tick infections, including those that carry the bacteria for Lyme disease, have gone up.
If you find a tick, and you have removed it, what do you do next? You can take a photo and upload it to the website etick.ca (they also have a phone app). Experts will then help you identify the tick within 48 hours and advise you on what steps to take.
If advised, it is critical that you seek medical care early. Prophylactic antibiotics have been shown to significantly prevent Lyme disease when taken early. Have a great summer, don’t get “ticked” off and take care of yourselves and each other.