Southern Alberta Newspapers
It is the season for ticks and they can be particularly bad in this region, warns Alberta Health Services (AHS).
“The ticks are out in full force right now,” said Dr. Vivien Suttorp, south zone medical officer of health AHS. “Ticks are most active when it is not hot out. That’s why in May/June we see the most ticks.”
In Medicine Hat, Brooks and Southern Alberta the numbers are high, said Suttorp.
Preventing tick bites is key. Cover up bare skin particularly when you are in wooded or grassy areas. Wear long sleeved shirts, a hat, long pants with the legs tucked into your socks or boots. You should also use a bug spray that contains the chemical DEET, IR3535 or Icaridin, AHS advises.
“DEET is the one that is most effective,” said Suttorp, noting there are different concentrations of DEET in insect repellents.
It is important to look at the packaging, she said. The concentration of DEET is also an indication of how long it is effective without having to reapply.
After you have been outside check yourself and your pets for ticks. If you find a tick it should be submitted in order to help monitor for the Lyme disease bacteria carrying ticks. Alberta’s tick surveillance program relies on Albertans submitting ticks.
“Thanks to tick submissions from previous years, we know the risk of getting Lyme disease in Alberta is very low. I encourage Albertans to keep submitting so we can continue to monitor the situation here,” said Dr. Kristin Klein, deputy medical officer of health, in a press release.
The tick surveillance program does not include testing for Lyme disease in humans.
Anyone concerned about a tick bite, or who thinks they may have Lyme disease, should visit their doctor along with the tick, if possible. It is also important to be aware of the risk of Lyme disease when travelling outside the province to places where there are established populations of Lyme disease carrying ticks.
Between 1991 and 2016 there were 87 cases of Lyme disease reported to Alberta Health, according to its website. In the early years there were a few each year but that jumped to 19 in 2013. In 2016 there were 10.
“All were reported as having been acquired while travelling outside of the province in areas where the bacteria causing Lyme disease and the ticks that carry it are known to circulate,” the website states.
They should be removed safely and as soon as possible.
Using tweezers, gently grasp the tick’s head and mouth parts as close to your skin, or your animal’s skin, as possible, Alberta Health’s website advises. Without squeezing the tick, slowly pull the tick straight up and off the skin —do not jerk or twist it.
With the tick removed, clean the bite area with soap and water. Use a disinfectant on the area.
Do not discard the tick — it should be submitted for testing.
Submit ticks for testing:
Ticks found on people or in their surroundings can be submitted to an Environmental Public Health Office), or a health centre on a First Nations reserve.
If you have symptoms and are consulting your doctor in that regard you could take the tick with you, says Alberta Health. Ticks found on pets or farm animals should be taken to a veterinarian.
When to seek medical attention because of a tick bite:
If a round, red, rash spreads at the site of the tick bite, says Alberta Health’s website. If you experience flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, sore muscles and joints and/or have a fever.