HKPR District Health Unit – Fight the Bite! Tips to Combat Ticks and Lyme Disease

In Local

Preventative tips to keep you and your family safe outside.
Warmer weather is coming, and the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR District Health Unit) is urging residents to be vigilant against ticks and Lyme disease.

Ticks, particularly blacklegged ticks, live in wooded areas, tall grasses, and bushes. Although they are primarily active in spring and summer, ticks can be found any time of year when the temperature is above freezing. Blacklegged ticks will act like hitchhikers, settling on tall grasses and bushes until they can attach to a passing person or animal. Once attached, ticks will feed on the host’s blood. These ticks can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, which can cause serious health issues if left untreated.

To reduce the risk of tick bites, follow these tips:

• Wear light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to spot.

• Use closed footwear and socks, and long-sleeve shirts tucked into long pants. Tuck pants into socks for added protection.

• Apply insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin on clothes and exposed skin. Following manufacturer instructions carefully.

• Regularly check for ticks on the body. Pay special attention to areas like the groin, belly button, armpits, head, behind ears, and knees. Don’t forget to check children and pets.

• Take a shower as soon as possible after outdoor activities to wash off any ticks.

• Kill ticks on clothing by placing them in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes before washing.

“Being mindful is key to protecting you, your family, and pets from bites,” urges Sue Shikaze, Health Promoter, with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Warmer weather is here sooner than usual, and ticks are being spotted earlier, so it’s important to take action to protect yourself. Each year we see the range of black-legged ticks carrying Lyme disease expand further north in the HKPR district area, due in part to warmer temperatures associated with climate change.”

When to Seek Medical Attention
If a blacklegged tick is attached for 24 hours or more, or if it appears enlarged, remove the tick and seek medical attention right away. If you don’t remember having a tick but have recently visited a tick-prone area and you develop symptoms of Lyme disease, seek medical help. Early symptoms may include a ring-like rash, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue.

“Enjoying outdoor activities is essential for physical and mental health,” emphasizes Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “However, it’s crucial to remain vigilant against tick bites, especially considering the potential risk of Lyme disease. Taking proactive measures like wearing appropriate clothing and using insect repellent ensures we can embrace nature safely.”

Identifying a Tick – Use eTick
The HKPR District Health Unit no longer accepts ticks for testing, but you can still identify ticks using the free eTick website. Here’s how it works. Submit a photo of a tick and within 48 hours, you’ll receive a notification if the tick is the type that may spread Lyme disease. Based on the results, you can figure out the next steps, including whether to see a healthcare provider.
For more information on Ticks and Lyme disease visit, hkpr.on.ca/FightTheBite.

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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