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Preventing lyme disease

Tips on preventing Lyme disease – avoiding ticks when outdoors!

A bit of timely news for all who are heading out hiking or camping this summer:

The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance is sharing information on preventing Lyme disease through ticks. This disease is one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in North America and if untreated in early stages can lead to serious problems involving joints, the heart and central nervous system. It’s often passed along via ticks which are most active during the spring and summer when they are in their “nymph” stage – so tiny that they can go on feeding for several days after traveling to a human host.

So to prevent being bitten by a tick when outdoors hiking or camping, here are 10 tips:

  • Choose tick-repellent clothing, particularly items treated with permethrin insecticide that repels and kills ticks. Spray your own clothing with insect repellent which can be found in many outdoor retailers across Canada.
  • Make sure you choose an insect repellent that can be applied to exposed skin.
  • Cover up – reduce the amount of skin exposed by wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a hat.
  • Light coloured clothing makes it easier to spot ticks.
  • While it may be unfashionable, it will help – tuck in your shirt into your pants and your pant legs into your socks as an extra line of defence against ticks.
  • Use marked hiking trails and avoid deer paths.
  • Every time you go hiking in the woods, check for ticks during your visit and right afterwards.
  • Bath as soon as you return from your excursion – bathing helps remove unattached ticks from your body and it’s particularly a good time to inspect for any unwanted hitchhikers.
  • Remove your clothing as soon as possible and place them in the dryer at high heat for about 30 minutes to kill any ticks.
  • Pets can transport ticks as well – inspect them carefully after returning from your excursion.

So if going into the bush this summer – better to prevent and nip the problem in the bud!

Preventing lyme disease

A tick – close-up. Photo courtesy of Tick-Borne Disease Alliance.