The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the ticks are out.
Officials say the risk of Lyme disease on the Island is still relatively low but are reminding people to be aware of ticks when they are out and about.
According to Dr. Dee Hoyano, medical health officer for Island Health, people should make checking for ticks on themselves, children and pets a regular occurrence after being outside.
Ecological conditions on Vancouver Island are the right climate for ticks and while the possibility the bacteria causing Lyme disease can also be found on those ticks she says the risk is low.
Hoyano says it’s best to take preventative measures to avoid having ticks on you in the first place, such as wearing long pants and socks, as well as using bug repellent that contains deet.
If you do find a tick on your body, she says the best way to remove it is with tweezers in order to remove the whole insect.
“The other important thing is you want to remove a tick as soon as possible after it’s attached to you,” she says. “We know the bacteria causing Lyme disease increases if that tick is on you for 24 hours or longer.”
Hoyano explains that Lyme disease can be treated very effectively with antibiotics but says the earlier the better. In 2017 Vancouver Island had three reported cases of the disease and in 2018 only one.
“One of the characteristics of Lyme disease is what’s called a bulls-eye rash,” she says. “It’s usually a circular red rash that spreads out from where the tick bite occurred.”
According to Hoyano, not everyone with Lyme disease will experience the bulls-eye rash so it’s good to be aware of the other symptoms including headaches or muscle and joint pain.
“That usually takes some time after the tick bites you so really if you have a tick on you today you’re not going to develop symptoms immediately and that’s why it’s important to remove the tick or try to avoid the tick in the first place.”
For more information on how to protect yourself from ticks visit healthlinkbc.ca.
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