Tick season takes off

The early warmth will bring out those pesky creepy crawlies; be careful in the great outdoors this weekend.

The Easter long weekend is approaching and forecasts call for four days of sun, with highs ranging from 12 to 14 degrees Celsius.

As we all get outside to enjoy the spring, so does the warm weather bring out another type of critter: ticks.

The small bugs, which feed on the blood of humans, can also transmit disease. You may find them in tall grass and forests.

Here in the East Kootenay, the most common type of tick is the Wood Tick, which does not carry Lyme disease. However, wood ticks can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Ticks also have toxins that can result in temporary muscle weakness and paralysis if they are removed from the skin for several days.

Ticks can also cause fever, headache, muscle pain and rash. Once the tick is removed, the symptoms will go away, but seniors and chilren are particularly vulnerable.

“Lyme disease-carrying ticks are less common in the Interior of B.C. than on the coast; however, our residents do travel around the province, so it’s important they are aware of the signs of Lyme disease,” said Dr. Karin Goodison, a public health physician with Interior Health.

“Approximately 70-80 per cent of people newly infected with Lyme disease will develop a skin rash that looks like a ‘bulls eye’ target and often expands from the site of the tick bite. The rash may be accompanied by fever, headache, and aches or pains in muscles and joints. Individuals who experience this rash should see a doctor as soon as possible.”

There are several things you can do to protect yourself from tick-caused illnesses, Dr. Goodison went on.

“Covering up before you head outdoors and checking for ticks when returning from a walk, hike, or bike  ride are simple things that go a long way to prevent tick bites,” said Dr. Goodison.

“Most tick bites do not cause illness; however, any bite from a tick or other insect should be cleaned with soap and water because infection can occur whenever there is a break in the skin.”

It’s important to check your own skin and your children and pets after being in forests or tall grass, according to Interior Health.

More information is available at www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile01.stm