Springing into tick season early

Due to mild weather creeping up in the Valley, residents should also exercise more caution about other things creeping about — ticks.

Due to the mild weather creeping up in the Elk Valley, residents should also exercise more caution about other things creeping about — ticks.

Interior Health (IH) has warned that with the early arrival of spring, residents are more likely to be spending their time outdoors and should take necessary precautions to avoid tick bites.

“Ticks are most often found in tall grass and wooded areas, so covering up before you head outdoors and checking for ticks on yourself, your children, and your pets after being outdoors are simple things that go a long way to prevent tick bites,” said Gwen Barker, communicable disease specialist with IH.

The wood tick is the most common species in the interior region and thus does not share the Lyme disease bacteria that its coastal counterparts are more likely to carry. However, the wood tick can have toxins that cause temporary muscle weakness and paralysis if attached for several days. Fever, headache, muscle pain and rash are also common effects of tick-borne infections.

“Most tick bites do not result in illness, however, all tick bites should be cleaned, as infection can occur whenever there is a break in the skin,” said Barker. “It is important to watch for signs of tick-transmitted illnesses. Anyone who experiences a bull’s-eye rash or other symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible.”

Residents are advised to walk on cleared trails when in tall grass or wooded areas, tuck pant legs into socks or boots, apply insect repellant and shower when returning from areas where ticks may live.

When removing a tick, wear gloves and use needle-nose tweezers to gently remove the tick without crushing it so as to avoid its stomach contents being injected into your skin. Clean and disinfect any tick bite area with soap and water.

For more information on ticks visit HealthLink BC at www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile01.stm