Lyme disease is preventable. By taking the right precautions and spreading the word, you can effectively protect your family from Lyme.
The best way to prevent infection is to avoid tick-infested areas whenever possible, particularly in spring and early summer when nymph ticks feed. Adult ticks are a bigger threat in fall. Ticks favour moist, shaded environments; especially leafy wooded areas and overgrown grassy habitats.
As for products that can be used to defend against ticks, read this interesting article comparing products containing DEET and those using permethrin. Permethrin is a much better tick repellent but in Canada… it is not allowed to be sold. It can be ordered over the internet.
Also, here is what the Canadian Paediatric Society says about repellents … “Icaridin is considered to be the repellent of first choice by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Canadian Advisory Committee on Tropical Medicine and Travel for travellers six months to 12 years of age. Products containing up to 20% icaridin are considered to be safe and efficacious.”
Icaridin is good for adults as well. In Canada, the Canadian Tire stores sell a Woods brand of Icaridin repellent.
Top 5 tick habitat precautions
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Tuck your pants into your socks to prevent ticks from getting inside your pants.
- Check your clothes for ticks often. Ticks will climb upwards until they find an area of exposed skin.
- Wear light coloured clothing to make it easier to spot ticks.
- Walk on pathways or trails when possible staying in the middle. Avoid low-lying brush or long grass.
- Apply insect repellent to your skin and clothing, especially at the openings such as ankle, wrist and neck.
Tick ID & Removal
Canada is home to many species of ticks, but the Ixodes Tick – more often known as the “black-legged” or “deer” tick – is the most common Lyme-carrier.
- Have hard-shelled brown and black bodies, but appear grey when engorged
- Have 8 legs as adults and nymphs, larvae (baby ticks) have only 6
- Are 1–5 mm long, but adults can grow up to 20 mm when feeding
Lyme disease is known as a “tick-borne illness”. This means that Lyme-infected ticks spread the disease to people by biting them. While tick transmission is most common, new studies indicate that there may be other ways to contract Lyme.
Other potential transmission methods:
- Contaminated blood transfusions
- Mosquito bites
- In utero (during pregnancy) or while breastfeeding
- Fluid exchange during intercourse
- Exposure to feces from animals/people infected with Lyme