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Health Unit: be “tick smart” this spring

Now that spring is here, staff members at the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit are urging residents, hunters and pet owners to keep an eye out for ticks.

Susan Healey, the organization’s Communications Coordinator, says ticks become active as temperatures rise above four degrees.

“Black legged ticks in our area may carry bacteria that cause Lyme disease,” Healey explains, “and you cannot tell if a tick is positive by looking at it.”

Lyme disease can have serious long-term health impacts in both people and animals. Healey says some of the symptoms include a “bull’s eye rash” around the area where the tick bit, headache, fever, and pain in your muscles and joints. She also says they can take anywhere from three days to several weeks to appear.

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“Lyme disease transmission depends on the length of time the infected tick is attached,” Healey adds. “Ticks that are removed quickly and have been attached for less than 24 hours are not likely to transfer the bacteria.” 

You can check how long a tick has been attached to you or your pet by looking at its size. Healey says “flat” ticks likely haven’t been feeding for very long, whereas larger “fat” ticks have fed for extended periods of time.

If you start to feel symptoms of Lyme disease, or you find a tick on your body that’s been there for more than 24 hours, Healey says you should contact your healthcare provider.

You can learn more about Lyme disease on the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit website.

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