As summer turns into fall and hunting seasons start to open across the province, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is offering some advice for hunters.
“Enjoy the benefits of being outdoors; but remember to be tick smart,” says Communications Coordinator Susan Healey. “While not all black-legged ticks in our area carry bacteria that causes Lyme disease, a significant number do, and you cannot tell if a tick is positive by looking at it.”
Healey recommends checking yourself and any pets you hunt with for ticks after returning indoors, as well as leaving your outdoor clothes in a hot dryer for a few minutes to kill any ticks clinging to them.
She also says you should take a shower after hunting to remove any unattached ticks, use insect repellent to keep them away while outdoors, and speak with your vet to protect your pets from the bugs.
“Lyme disease transmission depends on the length of time the infected tick is attached,” she explains. “Ticks that are removed quickly and have been attached for less than 24 hours are not likely to transfer the bacteria.”
“However,” Healey continues, “if the tick has been attached for longer than 24 hours you may be at an increased risk and it is recommended that you consult your healthcare provider.”
When you remove a tick from your body, according to Healey, you should check to see if it’s “fat” or “flat.”
“A fat tick is an indication that it has been feeding for a longer period of time,” she says.
Symptoms of Lyme disease, which include a bullseye rash forming around the bite, headaches, joint pain and fevers, can manifest anywhere from three days to several weeks after a tick bite.
If you start to develop symptoms, Healey says you should contact your doctor.
You can learn more about Lyme disease on the Health Unit website.