Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by strains of borrelia bacteria. The bacteria are transmitted to humans and pets bitten by an infected tick.
The incidence of Lyme disease in Canada is hugely underestimated. Reasons for this include: lack of awareness, missed early symptoms, and poor diagnostic procedures.
The symptoms of Lyme disease also overlap with other chronic diseases (such as MS, ALS, fibromyalgia, CFS, etc), increasing the chances of misdiagnoses.
The symptoms of early infection vary. Some people may experience mild flu-like symptoms, fever, and notice a bulls-eye rash, while others may not develop symptoms for a few months after being bitten. In any case, Lyme disease is a very serious illness that requires immediate treatment.
The tick population this season is especially high. Become informed about what you can do to reduce your risk.
Top 5 tick precautions:
1. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when in tick habitats. Tuck your pants into your socks to prevent ticks from getting inside your pants.
2. Check your clothes for ticks often. Ticks will climb upwards until they find an area of exposed skin. Have a friend or family member check hard to see areas. Perform a full-body inspection once indoors. Ticks can cling to clothing; toss your clothes in the dryer for 20 minutes to ensure they are tick-free. Also check your pets.
3. Wear light coloured clothing to make it easier to spot ticks.
4. Walk on pathways or trails when possible staying in the middle. Avoid low-lying brush or long grass.
5. Apply insect repellent to your skin and clothing, especially on any exposed areas, such as ankles, wrists and neck.
Research on various natural extracts has proven significant benefit.
Garlic juice, when sprayed on residential landscape, had a significant repellent affect over a three-year study.
Rosemary, peppermint, citrus, and Rose Geranium essential oils also demonstrate tick repellent properties. I make a homemade spray with a combination of the oils, a bit of vodka, and water. We use it around ears, ankles, and wrists as well as on clothing and pets.
If you do find a tick, don’t panic. Remove the tick using these suggested techniques and follow up with your ND or MD to discuss.