Lyme disease: Beware of ticks

In Quebec, it is known that infected ticks are present in Montérégie, the southwestern part of the Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec region, and the northern and western parts of the Eastern Townships. Because winters are getting warmer, it is likely that the presence of ticks will spread in the coming years.

How can Lyme disease be prevented?

Prevention is certainly the best defence with Lyme disease. Below are some tips to get you back from your nature walks without any intruders!

Remember that, like lice, ticks do not fly or jump. You must be in very close contact with the object or animal that they are on so that they can climb on you. They are often found on tall grass; if a human or animal passes through the grass, the ticks are likely to climb on for the ride. It is therefore recommended to avoid fields or other areas with tall grass or to use well-maintained trails. In addition, if your dogs or cats play in this type of environment, it is a good idea to inspect them regularly to remove any ticks that may have attached themselves to them.

Wear long clothes when hiking. We also recommend rolling your socks over the bottom of your pants and inserting your sweater into your pants to stop any ticks from latching on to your skin. Use an insecticide that contains DEET or icaridin. Follow the packaging instructions carefully. Watch out for children: always use a product that is designed for them. Consult your pharmacist if in doubt.

As tick bites do not cause any pain or itching, it is important to visually inspect the skin after a hike. If you find a tick, it is important to remove it as soon as possible. The more time it remains stuck to the skin, the more time it will have to transmit the bacterium that cause Lyme disease (if it carries it, of course).

Use eyebrow tongs to lift the tick gently and remove it. If possible, keep it in a tightly closed jar. It is possible to store a tick for 10 days in the refrigerator for a live tick or in the freezer for a dead tick. If you develop symptoms within the next few days (e.g.: redness around the bite, often in the form of a target, fever, fatigue, or joint or muscle pain), visit a doctor who can have the stored tick tested to determine if it was a carrier of the bacterium.

If you live in the countryside, be sure to cut the tall grass around your home and children's play areas. Make sure you create clear paths to move from one place to another if you have a large property.

In some regions in Quebec, group prescriptions have been made available.  Therefore, it is possible that if you are located in a region covered by a group prescription, your pharmacist may be able to prescribe preventive treatment if you are bitten by a tick. If in doubt, consult your pharmacist.

To learn more, visit the Government of Québec’s health portal: https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/lyme-disease/

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