To the Editor;

Ticks are here to stay so we must learn what is necessary to live with them. There is no going back and trying to eliminate them from the environment with toxic chemicals is not the answer as it would only kill off everything.

It is important to know how to protect yourself when out in nature. There are things available for our fur family members and hopefully in the future there will be ways to better protect the human population. There is no quick fix.

Proper dress, use of repellents or treated clothing, body inspections upon returning home, clothes in a hot dryer for about 15 minutes before washing, and a shower within two hours and further body inspection.

If you found an attached tick on yourself, a family member or your pet, do not freak out and trash the tick. Stay calm and remember haste makes waste. Breathe and focus.

Carefully remove with fine-pointed tweezers or one of the many tick removal devices available. Slowly and carefully remove the tick, slowly pull straight up. If you agitate the tick, it could cause the tick to regurgitate into the bite site. If you squeeze the tick, you will inject more of the contents of the tick into the bite site. If the tick is ruptured and the fluids come in contact with mucous membranes, i.e. cuts or scratches, you can be exposed to whatever the tick may be carrying.

Save the tick in a Ziploc bag or some other container for later identification or testing. So many people freak out when they see an attached tick and just flush it in the toilet, burn it or just stomp on it and kill it. I know someone who freaked out and tossed the tick in the toilet; they then remembered me and fished out the tick for testing. Staying calm can be easier said than done, but please try and remember everything is not always about speed.

It is best not to handle the tick and to wear gloves or have something between you and the tick. Be sure to clean/cleanse the bite site and apply an antiseptic; I like to use a little tea tree essential oil.

Take a picture of the tick following guidelines of eTick, as it is good to identify what bit you. You may want to save the tick no matter where you found it for identification and surveillance to see what tick population are in the area. Knowledge is power. If a person was bitten and the tick is identified as a black-legged tick, you may want to have it tested. Geneticks will test ticks for various diseases but you will have to pay. It is better to find out what the tick is carrying rather than having to wait about a month for the development of antibodies and not everyone will develop antibodies. You can’t put a price tag on peace of mind and your health.

It is important to seek knowledgeable medical help if bitten by a tick and you develop symptoms. If you develop an erythema migrans EM rash it is a sign of Lyme but the rash is not always an EM rash.

It has been noted that Nova Scotia has the highest incidence of Lyme in Canada. About 40 per cent of the ticks carry this infection and who knows what co-infections. It has also been noted that there are areas of the province with a higher rate, as well as areas with a lower rate. Risk is risk, so it is important to be aware and follow all possible precautions.

Do some of your own research, be aware. Education is key.

Brenda Sterling-Goodwin

New Glasgow