Protect yourself from ticks

Opinion

To the Editor:

The ticks are out and about so when in the outdoors be sure to be aware and protect yourself and your family, including your fur family. Be sure to contact your local veterinarian regarding your pets.

It is advised to dress properly with long pants tucked into your socks and full shoes. Also wear a long-sleeved shirt that is tucked in, tie up long hair and wear a hat.

Use a good tick repellent; DEET is NOT a good repellent for ticks but it is helpful for mosquitoes and blackflies. There are various commercial repellents available such as Picaridin which is a chemical compound, piperidine, a derivative of black pepper as well as ones that contain oil of lemon eucalyptus. There are also numerous natural repellents such as Atlantick body spray (https://atlantick.ca/). Natural Edge, available in Stellarton, offers a repellent to help keep away pests (https://www.facebook.com/1961NaturalEdge/).

Check yourself as well as family members and pets when coming indoors. Do a full body check, and do not forget your crevices. The use of a lint roller on clothing is helpful to pick up ticks as they are very small. It is recommended to place clothes in a hot dryer for about 15 minutes to kill any missed ticks. Washing will not kill ticks, they do not drown. It is a good idea to also shower within two hours of coming indoors to wash away any loose ticks as well as again doing another body check.

If you find an attached tick be cautious in removing it. It is recommended to use very fine point tweezers, get as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up. There are various tick removal devices available. Do not squeeze the tick as it will force the contents of the tick into the bite site. Do not apply anything to the tick such as Vaseline or dish detergent or touch with a hot match as this will agitate the tick and they can retreat into the bite site. Do not twist the tick as again it can force contents from the tick in the bite site as well as possibly leave behind mouth parts.

It is recommended if you have the tick to save it for testing (https://www.lloydticklab.ca/tick-testing.html). If you have a tick bite note the date and location you were when bitten. Contact a knowledgeable health care practitioner and watch for a possible rash and other symptoms.

The black legged tick can carry Lyme as well as various co-infections. Having a tick bite is not the only way to acquire infection. Squeezing the tick puts you at added risk as does having contact with the fluids from a ruptured tick, especially if you have cuts and scratches. It has also been shown to be congenital as well as a suspect STD; blood transfusion and organ donation also being possible ways of transmitting the infection.

The claims that removing ticks within 24 or 48 hours of attachment will effectively prevent Lyme are not supported by the published data, and the minimum tick attachment time for transmission of Lyme in humans has never been established. Studies done were with mice. Therefore, Lyme infection can never be excluded after a tick bite irrespective of the estimated duration of attachment time. It has been said for dogs three to six hours of attachment can transmit Lyme disease.

There is so much that is unknown. There is a need for continued research regarding vector borne diseases. Education is key!

Brenda Sterling-Goodwin

New Glasgow