Tiny ticks will often climb to the top of grass stands, with forelimbs outreached, waiting patiently for their transfer to man or animal walking by. That’s just one reason it’s a good idea to brush yourself after walking through long grass. Here’s another. The tick populations are spreading across Ontario, bringing Lyme disease with them.
Last year there were 1,479 diagnosed cases of Lyme disease in Ontario, up by 487 from 2016. Diagnoses have been on the rise across Canada since 2009, when there were only 144 diagnosed cases across the entire country.
High-risk areas, where ticks are considered prevalent, have been growing in Ontario. But the rural areas are the ones most at risk from the tiny arachnids. As many as 20 per cent of blacklegged, or deer, ticks carry Lyme disease.
Symptoms can vary, including flu-like symptoms, sometimes accompanied by a bull’s-eye rash (a large red circle surrounded by a red ring). The disease is curable, and long-term damage can be prevented if the disease is caught early. A first dose of antibiotics (by prescription only) is best administered within 72 hours of removing the tick to prevent the disease. Long-term damage can be severe and include long-term exhaustion and paralysis.
While health officials suggest going to a doctor to have a tick removed to prevent it from infecting the blood system, a doctor’s office can be a long way to go. Use fine-pointed tweezers to grab the head as blunt tweezers can crush the body but leave the head under the skin.
You can buy a $16 (shipping included) tick kit (includes three styles of tick removers depending on whether the tick is on an arm or in the ear or on a pet) by ordering online from the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation. Expect delivery in about three weeks.