Do you like walking in the woods?

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Walking, hiking, and picnicking are favourite pastimes of all visitors and many Cortes Island residents.  And they are safe enough activities, but spring and early summer need special attention…

The Western Black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) is very common during the spring and early summer in our area. It occurs on vegetation in warm, moist areas on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and along the mainland coast between the United States border and Powell River. Its eastward range extends along the Fraser River to Yale and north to Boston Bar.

The red and black females and smaller black males attach to humans, deer, cats and dogs, becoming grey and bean-like in size as they feed. The bite is often painful and may result in a slow-healing ulcer.

The Western Black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) does not cause paralysis, but it is a carrier of the microorganism responsible for Lyme disease in North America. The organism which causes Lyme Disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, has been found in ticks collected from many areas of BC, and health authorities now believe that Lyme Disease carrying ticks may be present throughout the province. For more information on Lyme Disease, see the BC Centre for Disease Control web site.

Removing Attached Ticks

Ticks should be removed as soon as possible. Many methods have been developed over the years for removing feeding ticks which connect themselves to their host with small, barbed mouthparts. Ticks do not burrow under the skin. A number of some drastic techniques, such as using a hot cigarette, gasoline, or hot matches to induce the tick to detach itself, are unreliable and may cause injury to the person involved. Ticks are most safely and effectively removed by a slow and gentle pull without twisting, using tweezers or fingers. This will normally remove the tick with the mouthparts attached. The wound should be treated with an antiseptic. See the BC Center for Disease control web site for further information on removal of ticks.

It may also be possible to freeze them off with a medical wart remover. If the tick’s head and mouthparts break off during removal, they can be removed with tweezers like a splinter.

Tick as seen on someones pants.

Personal Protection

The following precautions will decrease the likelihood of tick attachment.

Wear high boots or tuck pant cuffs into socks. Tuck shirt into pants. Do not wear short pants. Application of commercial insect repellents containing diethyl toluamide (DEET) to the pants may assist in repelling ticks.

If possible, avoid game trails or old roads overgrown or closely lined with vegetation. Tick levels may be high in areas frequented by animals.

When resting, sit on a bare rock, a ground sheet, or a vegetation-free area instead of stretching out on vegetation.

Make daily examinations for ticks, paying particular attention to the pubic region, the base of the skull, and the scalp. Check the backs of everyone in the group and carefully inspect any children. Clothes should be closely examined for ticks, especially near the collar, after they have been hanging overnight.

If you have some symptoms that may be related to tick’s bites within days or weeks after being bitten by a tick, please report them to your family doctor immediately. Tell your doctor when and where you were bitten by a tick. If possible, keep any removed ticks and take them to your doctor who may need to have the ticks identified. Ticks can be stored in any sealed container in a fridge or freezer.

General symptoms include  fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, fatigue or weakness of the muscles of the face; skin rash, especially one that looks like a “Bull’s Eye”. It may or may not be where the bite was.

See more information on ticks here.