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Tick Season is Underway

With warmer temperatures on the horizon, small bugs which feed on the blood humans and animals have made a return.

Interior Health Communicable Disease Specialist, Leah Feist says although most tick bites do not cause illness some ticks can transmit disease.

“The most common type of tick that we have in Interior Health is the wood tick and this type of tick can cause a disease known as Rocky Mountain spotted fever. As well some ticks have toxins that can cause temporary muscle weakness and paralysis but these symptoms fade once the tick is removed.”

Feist says the disease most people are familiar with is Lyme Disease, and that the type of ticks that transmits it is most commonly found throughout Coastal BC.

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“But they can be present in small numbers in Interior Health,” Feist notes.

Ticks are typically found in tall grass and wooded areas.

A number of precautions can be taken to prevent tick bites and tick-related illnesses according to Interior Health including:

  • Walk on cleared trails when in tall grass or wooded areas
  • Cover up by wearing a hat, long sleeves, and pants
  • Wear light-coloured clothing to help spot ticks easily
  • Tuck pant legs into socks or boots
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET on uncovered skin
  •  Check clothing and scalp (covered or not) when leaving an area where ticks may live – ask someone to help check hard to reach areas
  •  Have a shower after returning from areas where ticks may live
  • Regularly check household pets for ticks.

To help keep ticks away from your home and yard, you can:

  • 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.

Ticks can be removed by using needle nose tweezers to gently grasp the tick close to the skin, and pulling the tick straight out without squeezing it. After it is removed, clean the area with soap and water.

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