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Protect Yourself and Prevent the Bite! Warm weather has arrived and outdoor adventure has begun. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reminding residents and visitors to be cautious of unwanted company who may latch on for a free ride – ticks. Ticks vary in size and colour depending on their age and feeding status. While Ontario is home to a numb e r of different species of ticks, it’s the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis; also called the deer tick) that we have to worry about as it can carry or spread the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi that causes Lyme Disease (LD). Though not all black-legged ticks are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, those that are infected must be attached to their human host for a minimum of 24 hours for the bacteria to be transferred into the human blood stream hence the importance of catching it early. Symptoms of LD usually begin three days to one month after being bitten by an infected tick. Individuals that acquire LD often develop a round, red rash that slowly expands away from the tick bite resembling a “bull’s eye” pattern. Other flu-like symptoms include – fever, chills, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain. If left untreated, LD can cause neurological symptoms, rheumatologic symptoms or cardiac abnormalities weeks to years after onset. As a result, residents are encouraged to see their doctor if they think they might have contracted LD. Ticks hide in tall grasses or shrubs and crawl onto human or animal hosts when given the opportunity. Humans, dogs, birds and deer populations are all ideal hosts for ticks.

As well, help make your environment less favourable to ticks: • Keep the grass in your yard mowed; • Remove brush and fallen leaves from the edges of property, especially if your yard borders a wooded area or fields of tall grass; • Reduce the attraction of small critters such as mice and voles by cleaning up areas under and around bird feeders; • Discourage deer from entering your yard, as ticks also feed on these animals; • Place children’s play structures away from wooded areas. By following these simple tips, you can better enjoy outdoor adventures with your family and friends. In the event a tick bites you, follow these steps to effectively remove it: 1. Using tweezers, grasp the ticks head as close to the skin as possible and pull slowly until the tick is removed. Do not twist, squeeze or rotate the tick. Do not use a match, lotion or anything else on the tick. 2. Place the tick in an empty pill vial or zip-lock bag with a moistened paper towel. 3. Wash your bite site with soap and water.

To avoid tick bites, take these easy steps to protect yourself and your family:

If you have a “tick key”, you can:

• Apply an approved insect repellent containing DEET to exposed skin and clothing;

2. Slide the tick into the specially tapered slot.

• Wear long pants, a long sleeved shirt, shoes and socks to avoid exposed skin; • Tuck pants into socks; • Wear light coloured clothing; • Stay to trails and avoid walking in the long grass; • Check yourself, children and pets for ticks, pay special attention to the scalp, groin, armpits, and behind the knees.

1. Place the key over the tick in the tear-drop hole.

3. Pull the key away from the skin. The tick should come out easily. Disinfect your tick key after each use. Ticks that have bitten humans may be submitted for testing to OPH, by appointment. As this is a surveillance and identification program only, results may not be available for a number of months. Your physician conducts all clinical case management relating to your tick exposure. For more information or questions regarding tick submissions and Lyme disease, please visit ottawa.ca/LymeDisease or contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656).

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Stittsville News EMC - Thursday, June 5, 2014 7

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