Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Black~Legged Ticks in Ontario

Black~Legged Ticks, formerly known as Deer Ticks, carry an infectious disease called Lyme Disease and if left untreated can prove to be fatal.

Over the past few weeks I have noticed, via my Facebook feed, that several people are complaining about ticks and the increase in people seeing them on their persons over other years has been staggering.  It is because of this I decided to bring awareness to the situation and mayhaps, giving some of you the information you require to get help before it becomes a health problem.  If you love nature, such as I do, your going to need to know such information in order to better equip yourself before traversing into the wild.

Ticks are closely related to spiders...shiver...and are typically small when unfed, at all stages of their growth blood is needed in order to survive their design.

Ticks cannot fly and are quite slow and they usually sit upon tall grasses and bushes waiting for a host, such as people or animals, to brush against them and allow them to attach themselves to you.

They can take up to several hours to find a suitable place to infest your body and the bite is quite painless, so often you do not even realize they have attached themselves to you.  One good thing to note, but you can never be sure, is that, many of the ticks do not carry the Lyme disease, however, who wants to play Russian Roulette with an insect?

In Ontario, Black~Legged Ticks are more often found in rural areas, along the shores of Lake Erie, Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.  The boundaries of tick populations are not easily defined and it is believed that contamination into other neighbouring areas is inevitable.

The nymphal stage usually begins in the summer months and it is at this time that is more likely for one to contact Lyme disease via a tick bite than any other.  Even though Ontario has a higher risk of Lyme disease than any other location, the chances of actually contacting the disease is slim.

Ticks feed on blood by inserting their mouthparts and not their whole bodies into the skin of its host.  They feed slowly and their bodies will actually enlarge as they eat, making it more visible for the eye to see.  It usually takes about three to seven days for a tick to complete its meal.

If a tick has bit you that does carry the Lyme disease it is important to note that it usually takes about 24 hours after it has begun to feast for the infection to set it, this is why it is imperative to always check your person after an outing with nature.  The bacteria infection takes time in order to migrate from the tick's stomach to its salivary glands and it is because of this delay that buys you time from infection.

Now let's assume you have been infected, symptoms usually begin to appear within three days to one month.  If you show signs of fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and a skin rash, especially one that has a red bull's eye, you should seek medical advice.  And please note, not all show the red ring rash.  Antibiotics will help clear any early signs of Lyme disease.

In order to avoid ticks, some handy things to remember are to wear light coloured clothing, it makes it easier to see the offending creatures.  Wear long pants and long sleeved shirts, with closed footwear and socks.  If you are able, tuck your pants into your socks for added protection.  If you know you live in an area that has had reported Lyme Disease then it is important to have tick repellents that have DEET as well as, using tick and flea collars on your pets.

Do not put anything on the tick or try to burn it off, though I did hear if you soaked a cotton ball in some liquid dish detergent and gently dab it upon the area for a few seconds, it will draw the tick out.  I have never applied this but it may work, especially for those hard to reach areas~!!

Remember where you found the tick if at all possible and report it to your public health workers.

Clean the bite site thoroughly with rubbing alcohol and soap and water.

Blood tests should conclude whether or not you have contracted the disease and further medical treatment can be decided upon then.

I love and adore nature and wouldn't want these tiny insects to spoil my enjoyment nor would I wish for it to spoil yours~!!  If you hear of any in your area, please share your story below, help keep us all informed~!!

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