Prevention and quick diagnosis are critical! Here are some things to keep in mind this summer:
1. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved clothing with pants tucked into socks, when outdoors in tall grasses and wooded areas so that ticks are more visible.
2. DEET is a proven tick repellant. Lemon eucalyptus extract may also be an effective tick repellant and safer for chemically sensitive individuals.
3. If you find a tick attached to your skin, gently remove it with a pair of tweezers (by the head and as close to the skin as possible without squeezing its body), and apply antiseptic to the bite. Do not use heat or chemicals to remove the tick. Secure the tick in a container, zip-lock bag, or tape it to a card, write the date and location of the bite, and take it to public health for Lyme bacteria testing.
4. Public Health advises that infection will not occur if you remove the tick within 20 to 24 hours, though research is conflicting so please check yourself, children, and pets, frequently during outdoor activities, including gardening, hiking, hunting, etc.
5. If you did contract the Lyme bacteria, testing won’t be positive for at least 4 weeks. It is important to receive treatment as soon as possible however, and know that symptoms may appear anywhere from 3 days to several months after the bite.
6. If you develop a rash and are uncertain, take a photo and have a healthcare practitioner look at the rash. If you are regularly exposed to ticks, request that your practitioner biopsy the rash and alert the pathologist to look for the Lyme bacteria (spirochete).
7. Keep your immune system up! Any chronic condition puts significant strain on your immune system so that battling acute infections such as Lyme is more challenging. Work with a health practitioner to understand where your immune imbalances exist and how to support them.
8. If your spouse has ever been diagnosed with Lyme disease and you suspect that you might also have the disease, request a thorough evaluation by a health practitioner. Our Public Health Agency advises that you cannot acquire the infection from human body fluids such as semen, but this has not been proven and many Lyme specialists believe that transmission does in fact occur, so caution is warranted.
9. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, be particularly watchful as Lyme bacteria can cross the placenta and into breast milk.