Tick Tactics: Understanding and avoiding ticks

It seems that when the spring hits each year, images start showing up on social media asking if a newly discovered arachnid might be a tick. While ticks have been a common sight in Ontario and Manitoba for a while now, they seem to be venturing further west as they travel on migratory birds. Along with ticks comes questions about what they look like, their habitat and of course, the risk of lyme disease.

Ticks tend to be found in grassy, brushy, and woody areas (including field edges) and can be a problem anytime temperatures are above 0 degrees celsius. While there are a couple of common species of ticks, the one that presents the most risk to humans is the blacklegged or deer tick. Blacklegged ticks have the ability to host a bacteria that can cause lyme disease.

Infected ticks usually need to be feeding on a host for 24 hours before they can transmit the bacteria to the host. Ticks inject an analgesic, as well as an anti-coagulant into their host, which makes it so that someone bitten cannot feel the bite and also continues to feed the tick.

In this interview with Dr. Curtis Russell of Public Health Ontario (PHO), we discuss where ticks can be found, what to do if you have been bitten, and ways that you can prevent a tick latching on to you.

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