In Quebec, infected ticks are known to circulate in the Montérégie area, in the south-east portion of the Mauricie- and Centre-du-Québec regions, as well as north and west of Estrie. With our winters getting milder, ticks will likely spread to larger territories over the coming years.
When it comes to Lyme disease, prevention is your best defense. Here are some tips to follow so that you don’t pick up any unwanted guests on your hikes!
Just like lice, ticks do not fly or jump, so you have to come into direct contact with an object or animal carrying a tick in order for the insect to climb onto you. In nature, they perch themselves on high grass so that they can latch onto a passing animal or human. You should therefore avoid walking in fields with tall grass, opting instead for well-kept trails. If your pets walk in tall grass, make sure to inspect them regularly so that you can detach any tick that might have latched onto them.
Wear long clothing when going on hikes. It’s also a good idea to tuck your pants into your socks, and to tuck your shirt into your pants, to reduce possible access points to the skin. Also use an insecticide that contains DEET, paying close attention to the directions for use. In the case of children, make sure to always use an appropriate product. When in doubt, speak to your pharmacist.
Since tick bites do not cause any pain or itching, it’s important to perform a thorough check of your skin after taking a walk through nature. If you find a tick, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible. The longer it remains attached to your skin, the more time it’ll have to transmit the bacterium that causes Lyme disease (if it is a carrier, of course).
To remove a tick, use eyebrow tweezers and gently pull the tick out. If possible, keep the tick in a sealed container. If you develop any symptoms in the following days (e.g. redness around the bite, fever, fatigue, muscle/joint pains), you can then bring the tick to your doctor, who will get it analyzed to determine whether it carries the bacterium.
Lastly, if you live in the country, make sure to cut any long grass on your property and around children’s play areas. If you have a large property, create wide walking paths to get around.
For more information, visit the government of Quebec’s health portal: http://sante.gouv.qc.ca/en/problemes-de-sante/maladie-de-lyme/