To the Editor;
What to do if you find a tick? Summer is finally here and the tick problem continues. Please be aware that the risk of getting bitten by a tick can be anywhere, even your own backyard.
I have people contacting me on a regular basis, not just in Pictou County but across Canada, with questions and concerns. If you find a tick, wherever it may be, save it in a baggie and take a picture, which you can send to eTick for identification. It is better to be safe than sorry and to know what you are dealing with. No tick is a good tick and all ticks can carry disease. The blacklegged tick, also called the deer tick, is the one of most concern because of Lyme and the many co-infections they can carry.
I know of people cutting their lawns and finding ticks on themselves. One person went to their shed and came back with an attached tick and another went out to view their crab apple tree and ended up with an attached tick. There was a child at daycare that had a tick attached. Some people have been finding ticks in their homes that likely came in on a pet or on themselves. I know of someone who was out wearing a beekeepers suit and when they came back they were amazed at the number of ticks they found on the suit.
It is important to do regular body checks in hope of finding what I refer to as ‘walker ticks,’ ticks strolling about for the perfect spot to put in their mouth parts. It is a good idea to have these ‘walker ticks’ ID’d as this can help with tick surveillance in the province. The province at this time has no program so send tick pictures to eTick (a free service).
I strongly recommend the use of a tick repellent such as Icaridin, also known as picaridin, or a commercially available natural repellent such as Atlantick available at many locations. You can also check out Natural Edge in Stellarton on Facebook. Connie has available a natural repellent as well as soaps that can help with these outdoor pests. There is clothing available at Mark’s called No Fly Zone—the first permethrin-treated clothing available in Canada. For those who have treated clothing, I still recommend the use of repellents on exposed skin. Whatever you do, nothing is 100 per cent so remember complete body check is still necessary when trying to avoid being bitten.
Proper removal of ticks is equally important because the tick can regurgitate into the bite site. Do not put anything on the tick such as dish soap, Vaseline, or a hot match as all this will do is ‘tick off’ the tick. Be careful not to squeeze or twist the tick. Use fine point tweezers or a tick removal device and slowly pull the tick straight out. There are many different types of removal devices available and I recommend people to have one available. Canlyme has a complete kit available that you can order. I suggest carrying a baggie with you to place a removed tick or a ‘walker tick’ into for safe transport.
If the tick was attached to a human, there is the option to send it for testing (https://www.geneticks.ca/). You will have to pay but you will have test results within 48 hours of the lab receiving the tick. You can’t put a price on having peace of mind knowing if the tick that bit you or a loved one was negative. If the tick was positive, it is important to seek knowledgeable medical help.
Here in Nova Scotia we are all at risk, even a small risk is risk. We are at risk of being hit by a car every time we cross the street even if the risk is small. It is time that doing tick checks become second nature just like brushing your teeth.
Be aware, be safe. Education is key.