There are precautions people can take to prevent illnesses that may be transmitted from tick bites.
The most common species in the Interior is the wood tick, species which does not carry the lyme disease bacteria. The wood tick can carry other diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, although it is rare.
“Lyme disease-carrying ticks are less common in the Interior than on the coast. However, our residents do travel around the province, so it’s important they are aware of the signs of lyme disease,” said Dr. Karin Goodison, public health physician with the Interior Health Authority.
“About 70 to 80 per cent of people newly infected with lyme disease will develop a skin rash that looks like a bull’s eye target and often expands from the site of the tick bite. The rash may be accompanied by fever, headache, and aches or pains in muscles and joints. Individuals who experience this rash should see a doctor as soon as possible.”
One of the most important ways to reduce the risk of tick illnesses is to do a skin check on yourself, your children, and your pets after being outdoors. Other precautions include:
Walking on cleared trails when in tall grass or wooded areas.
Wearing a hat, long sleeves, pants, and light-coloured clothing.
Tucking pant legs into socks or boots.
Applying insect repellent containing DEET on uncovered skin.
Carefully checking clothing and scalp (covered or not) when leaving an area where ticks may live.
To reduce ticks from entering your home and yard, try these steps:
Keep your lawn short and remove any fallen leaves and weeds.
Keep a buffer area such as wood-chip or gravel border between your lawn and wooded areas or stone walls. Any play equipment or play zones should be kept away from wooded areas.
Trim tree branches to allow more sunlight in your yard.
Keep wood piles and bird feeders away from the house.
Widen and maintain trails on your property.
If you find a tick on yourself, a family member, or pet, wear gloves and gently remove it. Be careful not to crush the tick as this could cause it to inject its stomach contents into your skin. If you find a tick, check very carefully for others. Other tips to remove ticks safely include:
Use needle-nose tweezers to gently grasp the tick close to the skin.
Without squeezing, pull the tick straight out.
After removal, clean the area with soap and water.
If you have concerns or need assistance removing a tick, contact your family doctor or visit a walk-in medical clinic.
More information is available at HealthLink BC file: http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile01.stm