Ticks are a common problem in Niagara, especially in spring and fall when outdoor environments are moist and humid.
Although most ticks do not transmit the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, the blacklegged tick can — and the number of its findings in Niagara this spring is more prevalent than previous years.
With Brock University’s trails, fields and grassy areas busy this time of year with students, staff, faculty, visitors, school groups and campers, Occupational Health and Safety Specialist Daniel Pozzobon is advising the Brock community to take precautions.
“If possible, people should avoid areas with unkempt and high grass, spray insect repellent that contains DEET and dress in light-coloured clothing so ticks are more visible,” he said. “Ticks thrive in shady and damp environments, so it’s best to stay in sunny areas.”
Pozzobon also encourages hikers in wooded areas to walk in the centre of trails and wear clothing that covers arms and legs. Loose clothing should be tucked in and shoes should cover the entire foot.
People should check themselves, children and pets for ticks after outdoor activities, paying special attention to areas such as the scalp, groin and armpits.
If bitten by a tick, it should be immediately removed and saved in a sealed bag or container to be brought to a local public health office for identification and testing. Record the date and outdoor location of the bite.
To remove a tick:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady and even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick; it can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouthparts with tweezers, or if they do not remove easily, leave them alone and let the skin heal. Consult with a health-care provider.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.