Members of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit drag for ticks at Ojibway Park, May 18, 2016. (Photo by Mike Vlasveld)

Tick surveillance starts. Here’s how to avoid them

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit started its active tick surveillance program Tuesday in a bid to protect residents, not just from bites, but also Lyme disease.

The bite of a black-legged tick can spread Lyme disease, and the tiny creature can be found in wooded areas, campgrounds, parks, trails, even in your own backyard.

Field surveillance will be carried out in public parks across Windsor-Essex and along trails. It will give public health officials vital information to track the spread of ticks and the size of tick populations.

There are measures residents can take to avoid being bitten, including avoiding tall grass, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants that are light-coloured, tucking your pants into your socks and wearing closed toed shoes.

Once home, health officials recommend showering within two hours of being outside and putting clothes into a dryer on high heat to kill any ticks hiding in your clothing.

Pets should wear a tick collar.

If you find a tick on your body, remove it with a tick key or a pair of tweezers. Gently wash the bite and surrounding area with rubbing soap and water, and then rubbing alcohol.

Ticks should be brought to the health unit in a closed sealed container or a small plastic bag for testing. The health unit only takes ticks found on humans, not pets.

If the test on the tick for Lyme disease is positive, you should call your doctor for treatment.