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Talking Ticks: Learn the steps to prevent Lyme disease this summer!

Ticks are a risk throughout most of the year, feeding whenever temperatures rise above 4 degrees Celsius. In the summer, however, larvae and nymphs become more active. This, coupled with heavier foliage in wooded areas and spending more time outdoors, mean humans are at an increased risk for contracting Lyme disease. 

“We’ve got 14 different types of ticks in the province, of which three are fairly common — dog ticks, black legged ticks — which we used to call deer ticks — and groundhog ticks, which are very similar to black legged ticks,” said Andrew Hebda, Curator of Zoology with the Nova Scotia Museum in an article by Global News. 

“The ones really to watch out for are the black legged ticks or the deer ticks, because those have the potential of carrying Lyme [disease], if they’re in an area where Lyme is present, then roughly 10 per cent of that species will actually have the disease.”

And, though some areas have less risk than others, blacklegged ticks have been found in all parts of Nova Scotia. 

In 2015, the province saw a rise in Lyme disease, with 254 reported cases. Since 2001, the numbers have been mounting steadily as awareness of the disease has increased. 

When it comes to avoiding and treating the disease, experts say prevention is key. Some tips:
• Prune trees and mow lawns to let in sunlight – ticks prefer the dark and the damp
• Wear light coloured clothing with a tight weave so that any ticks are easily visible
• Take the path most travelled and opt for paved or cleared routes
• Tuck your pants into your socks, your shirt into your pants, and wear closed toe shoes
• Shower within two hours of being outdoors to dislodge any ticks 

If you do find a tick, stay calm – it takes 24 hours for a tick to pass on Lyme disease to a human or an animal. Start by using tweezers to gently pull the tick straight out, without jerking, twisting or squeezing. Follow up by washing the area and disinfecting with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Mark the date and contact a health care provider if you develop flu like symptoms or a rash.

Want more information? The Nova Scotia Communicable Disease Prevention and Control website has plenty of resources and a helpful brochure. 

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