Tick Talk: Be Aware of Blacklegged Ticks

Tick check basics

Spring means warmer temperatures in Nova Scotia, which means everyone is encouraged to do tick checks after spending time outdoors.

“Ticks can be found throughout the province, in or near woods, shrubs, fallen leaves, long grass, urban parks and gardens, so people should always be aware and take precautions when enjoying the outdoors, said Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, Nova Scotia’s deputy chief medical officer of Health.

“Ticks are very small and their bites are painless so it is important you take steps to protect yourself and your family.”

There are several kinds of ticks in the province, including the blacklegged tick that carries the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease.

Blacklegged ticks are smaller than dog or wood ticks and have no white markings on the large part of their bodies. Despite their name, blacklegged ticks do not always have black legs.

There are several ways to reduce contact with ticks, avoid tick bites, risk of infection and Lyme disease, including:

  • wear light coloured, long sleeved shirts and pants to increase visibility
  • wear light coloured socks and enclosed shoes while working or playing outside or hiking
  • pull socks up over pant legs and tucking in shirts
  • spray clothing and exposed skin with an insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin and always make sure to follow directions on the label
  • check clothing and body carefully for ticks after working or playing outside, especially in the bushes or long grass. Pay special attention to armpits, the back of the knees and the groin or pelvic region
  • put clean outdoor clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any remaining ticks
  • remove any ticks attached to the skin promptly and safely
  • clean the bite area with soap and water or alcohol based sanitizer
  • keep grass cut and remove leaf litter to minimize a suitable habitat for ticks on properties

For more information, including how to remove and dispose of ticks safely, visit http://www.novascotia.ca/ticksafety .