How to prevent and remove ticks as the weather warms up
KITCHENER -- Warmer weather is here and so is tick season.
Kitchener resident Lisa Morgan spotted a tick on her cat, Misha, an hour after coming home from a walk with her two dogs Thursday.
“I don’t like them on me or my animals, it definitely gives you the creepy crawlies,” said Morgan.
She assumes she picked up the tick, or one of her dogs did, on their walk at Homer Watson Park in Kitchener. Morgan said it’s not the first tick sighting near there.
“I noticed someone on Facebook and they said they found one in the area and thought it was best to comment so people are aware that ticks are out there.”
It’s her fourth time dealing with a tick and she plans on bringing her cat and the bug to the vet soon.
“It’s great that dogs have flea and tick protection but I certainly don’t. Lyme disease is certainly something I think about.”
But Melanie Hunt, a registered veterinary technician at the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society said it's unlikely it's the kind of tick that carries Lyme disease.
The blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick is the one to look out for.
“Pretty much anywhere outside especially when there’s lots of high grass, more fields but you can find them in forests as well,” said Hunt.
According to Public Health Ontario, Waterloo Region is low risk for Lyme disease
Instead, officials said they're most commonly found near Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, along with Pinery Provincial Park, Rainy River and Rouge Valley.
Anyone who was bitten by a tick and is worried they might have Lyme disease should contact their health provider. Officials said the risk of infection is low if a tick is removed within 24 hours.
But while low, public health notes there is still a possibility of encountering blacklegged ticks almost anywhere in the province.
Hunt advises anyone going outdoors to:
- Wear light coloured long sleeve shirts and pants
- Wear closed footwear and tuck pants into socks
- Use an insect repellant with DEET or Icaridin
It is important to remove a tick as soon as possible.
She recommends a shower after being outdoors and to check your body for spots where ticks like to hide: groin, navel, armpits, scalp and behind ears and knees. It’s also important to check your pet for ticks if they have been outside.
“[Check] their paw pads, all over their skin, their face,” said Hunt.
Region of Waterloo Public Health no longer accepts ticks for identification or testing. In a statement, Chris Komorowski, manager of health protection and investigation says in part, “tick identification and testing is for surveillance purposes only and not intended for diagnosis of Lyme disease. We are encouraging residents to use eTick.ca to identify the type of tick and if eTick.ca identifies it as a blacklegged tick, residents should contact their health care provider for medical advice. If a tick is found on a pet, residents can speak with their veterinarian.”
Hunt said to remove ticks, it’s best to use a tick remover to safely get the bug out. The tool can be found at most pet stores.
Another method according to public health is to use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible and to pull the tick straight out firmly but gently, then to clean the bite with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
Lyme disease symptoms include a circular rash, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, chills and swollen lymph nodes.