Nature Conservancy of Canada offers summer tick tips

A deer tick. (Photo provided by Andrew Holland, National Media Relations Manager, Nature Conservancy of Canada)

With summer now upon us and COVID-19 restrictions being slowly lifted, many Canadians are heading outdoors to enjoy the weather.

However, warm weather means ticks, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada has some tips to avoid getting bitten and potentially contracting Lyme disease.

  • Be aware of areas where ticks live and thrive. When hiking, try to walk in the centre of the trail. If you need to take a break, sit on a rock instead of on the ground.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to keep your skin protected from ticks. Cover your head with a hat, tucking in any long hair, and wear high boots if you have them. Ticks are usually found close to the ground, so tucking your pants into your socks or boots may provide extra protection. You should also make sure there aren’t any gaps in your clothing that ticks could get into. Wearing light-coloured clothing can help you see ticks more easily and give you time to brush them off before they become attached to your skin.
  • After spending time outdoors, check your body, gear and pets for ticks before coming indoors.
  • Tick bites can easily go undetected. The first sign you may see is a black lump.  A more serious one is a rash near the site that may look like a bull’s-eye target. Infected people may also develop flu-like symptoms. The disease is treatable with antibiotics, and early treatment almost always results in full recovery.

Also, if you discover a tick on your body, here are some tips for safe removal.

  • Using tweezers, gently grasp the tick’s head and mouth parts as close to your skin as possible.
  • Slowly pull the tick straight out. Do not jerk or twist it.
  • Try not to squash it.
  • Do not apply matches, cigarettes or petroleum jellies to the tick as these may cause an infected tick to release bacteria into the wound.

You can also submit found ticks to local public health labs to be tested for Lyme disease. Visit natureconservancy.ca to learn more.