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Protect yourself from tick bites when outdoors

Most tick bites are small, generally painless and cause only minor symptoms, but some ticks transmit bacteria that can result in serious consequences, including Lyme disease.

With all of York Region considered an estimated Lyme disease risk area, you’re reminded to take precautions when outside by covering up exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts or jackets, long pants and socks.

The region also advises you to apply insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Search your body for ticks after spending time outdoors – paying special attention to the groin, scalp, underarms and back – and remove attached ticks from your body as soon as possible. Permethrin-treated clothing may provide protection against ticks and mosquitoes.

Early symptoms of Lyme disease typically occur within one to two weeks, but you might experience symptoms in as little as three days or as long as a month after a tick bite, the Public Health Agency of Canada reports. Signs can include one or a combination of the following symptoms with varying degrees of severity: fatigue, fever or chills, headache, spasms or weakness, numbness or tingling, swollen lymph nodes, skin rash, brain fog or dizziness, nervous system disorders, muscle and joint pain, and abnormal heartbeat.

Residents bitten by a tick are encouraged to see their health-care provider if they have concerns or experience symptoms. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you can begin recovery. If left untreated, symptoms can last for months or years and may include recurring muscle and joint pain, nervous system and/or neurological problems, numbness and/or paralysis, the Public Health Agency says. Lyme disease does not spread from person to person.

It’s also important to check your pets regularly for ticks. Dogs and cats can’t spread Lyme disease, but they can bring infected ticks into your home. Speak to your veterinarian if you find a tick on your pet. Learn more about ticks and Lyme disease, including how to safely remove a tick, at york.ca/lymedisease.

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