By Connor Lynch
Almost 40 per cent of ticks tested in Maine last year carried Lyme disease, a difficult to diagnose pathogen that can sneak by undetected and wreak havoc on the infected.
Lyme disease has been a growing concern in Ontario, as deer ticks have slowly increased their range northward over the last few years. In 2016, ticks were being found as far north as Thunder Bay. The disease itself can be difficult to detect or diagnose. It sometimes comes with a telltale bull’s-eye rash, but not always. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, but can produce a host of bizarre health complications if untreated. Symptoms typically appear three to 30 days after a tick bite. Lyme disease can be deadly but it’s extremely rare; only four deaths have been recorded worldwide. There were 987 people in Ontario in 2017 who were diagnosed with Lyme disease.
According to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, the risk of catching Lyme disease from a tick increases significantly if they’ve been on you for over 24 hours. Ticks are most active in the summer. They climb up long grasses and grab onto anything warm-blooded wandering by that they can reach. Then they hide somewhere on your body and settle in for three to five days to feed on your blood.
If you’ve been out in the woods or bush, check yourself for ticks. They release an anesthetic when they attach, so you may not feel one on you. The health unit also recommends showering if you’ve been outside.
Here are a few tips from Lyme Ontario on what to do if you find a tick on yourself.
• Do not remove the tick yourself. Ticks will vomit the contents of their stomach into you if you pull on them, which increases your chance of getting sick.
• Go to a doctor or hospital immediately to remove the tick with fine-pointed tweezers. Blunt tweezers can crush the body but will leave the head of the tick intact.
• Once the tick is off of you, apply an antiseptic to your skin and wash your hands.
• Ask a physician for an antibiotic to prevent Lyme disease.
• Have the tick tested for Lyme disease.
Lyme disease found in almost 40 per cent of ticks tested in Maine
By Connor Lynch