METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Spring means it’s time for the tiny vampires to make their presence known in bushy, wooded or grassy areas and some people have already started to spot them on pets and each other.
While Lyme disease is relatively rare in British Columbia, Dr. Eleni Galanis, an epidemiologist with the BC Centre for Disease Control says it’s still important to take steps to prevent tick bites as the bugs carry a number of diseases.
“A bit less than one per cent of ticks tested in the province carry Borrelia burgdorferi which is the bacteria that carries Lyme Disease,” she says, adding there are between 10 and 20 cases reported in the province each year.
The Sea to Sky, Lower Mainland, Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island are considered the highest risk areas for Lyme Disease in B.C., so if you’re heading into the outdoors, there are a few steps you will want to take.
“Stay on cleared paths; if there’s no contact with the vegetation then there’s very little risk that a tick that’s attached to vegetation will then transfer onto someone’s skin,” she says.
Wearing long sleeves, pants or tall socks, hats and using a bug repellent that contains DEET or Picardin help keep ticks off the surface of your skin.
“Then once you finish, remove all clothing, inspect the skin and look for ticks which would be about the size of a sesame seed,” says Galanis.
Careful removal is key
She recommends showering to knock off any ticks that may not be fully burrowed in but if you have been bitten be sure to carefully remove the tick without breaking of it’s head.
“Basically use tweezers to grab on to the head of the tick and pull straight up,”
If you’re worried about what diseases that tick may have been carrying, preserve the bug in a bag or container and bring it to your doctor for testing.
“If someone develops symptoms after they’ve been bitten they should definitely see their doctor for a diagnosis.”
Galanis says to look for a rash, headache, fever, muscle or joint pains.