Residents need to follow some steps to avoid tick bites when working in their gardens or going hiking in the woods. The black-legged tick may carry Lyme disease.
People can reduce the risk of ticks around the house with a thorough yard clean-up, that includes any garden areas. Prune trees to allow sunlight through because ticks prefer shady areas. Get rid of all fallen leaves, tall brush and weeds along stone walls and wood piles. Create a gravel or wood chip border about a metre wide to separate the yard from wooded areas or brush.
Set up playground equipment, including swings and sandboxes, on an elevated wood or mulch platform away from the woods.
When outdoors use an insect repellent containing DEET and Icaridin on clothing and exposed skin. Wear light-coloured clothing that will make it easier to see any ticks that attach themselves. Tuck shirts or sweaters into pants and pants legs into shoes to reduce the chance of ticks crawling up under clothes.
After coming indoors from outside, check clothing and the entire body for any ticks that have attached themselves. Pay close attention to the groin, navel, underarms, scalp, and behind the ears and knees.
Ticks can attach themselves to pets. A dog or cat that has been outside should be checked once indoors. Get advice from a veterinarian on protecting pets from tick bites.
Residents who think they have a tick bite should contact their doctor, and remove the insect with tweezers, or a tick removal card. Do not use fingers to remove a tick. Bring all collected ticks to a local health care centre for testing.
For more information, contact the Eastern Ontario Health Unit at 1-800-267-7120 or go to www.eohu.ca.