Lyme Disease Awareness Month
The month of May is a time where we all start spending more time outdoors and enjoying the warmer temperatures rolling in. It is also, for that matter, Lyme Disease Awareness Month. While the risk of contracting the illness varies across the country, all Canadians should be aware of the measures they can take to protect themselves and their loved ones from tick bites.
As you may already know, Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash that begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3 to 30 days. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system which is why it is crucial for individuals to know how to recognize the signs of a possible infection.
Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Following the initial early symptoms mentioned earlier, later signs of infection include severe headaches and neck stiffness, rashes, facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face), arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, and episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath.
There are a few measures that you can take to prevent tick bites on you and your pets alike. Although tick bites can occur all year round, ticks are most active during warm summer months. Here are a few tips that could help you reduce your risk of infection:
- Know where to expect ticks and avoid contact with them: ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals.
- Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin.
- Check your clothing, gear and pets for ticks.
- Shower soon after being outdoors.
- Check your body for ticks after being outdoors.
Finally, here are a few information resources at your disposal on the topic to help educate yourself and the ones you love on ticks and Lyme disease. We strongly encourage everyone to refer to those documents in order to be well prepared for the upcoming summer season.
Have a great summer!