June 27, 2019

Beware of Deer Ticks

Previously unknown in our latitudes, Lyme disease has been steadily progressing northwards: it affects more and more hikers. It begins with localized rash but can progress to severe neurological disorders. On excursions, be careful!

Deer Tick

Lyme disease is gradually gaining ground northward. In northeastern United States and Quebec, only the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) carries the bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) responsible for the disease. It is transmitted to humans by the painless bite of an infected tick. The tick is red-brown in color and its volume, that of a sesame seed, swells with the blood of the victim. Transmission is only performed at an ambient temperature above 4°C and the risk is minimal if the tick is removed within 24 to 36 hours.

How to avoid?

To prevent infection during forest excursions, you must:
• Wear pants, socks, hat, long-sleeved shirt, or even put bottom of pants in socks
• Spray clothing and exposed skin (except the face) with insect repellent
- Picaridine / icaridine up to 20% concentration for 10 hours of protection
- DEET up to 30% for 6 hours
- Natural lemon eucalyptus oil, for 5 hours but less effective against ticks
• Walk in the middle of trails, if possible, without rubbing against tall grass and leaves
• Wear light colored clothing to help identify ticks
• Once back home, thoroughly inspect clothes and skin
• If necessary, remove a tick with tweezers, pulling slowly without twisting or crushing; clean the skin with antiseptic or soap and water

What Symptoms? What Treatment?

A rash appears 3 to 30 days after the bite. Then, extreme fatigue, joint pain, headache, weakness of the facial muscles, eye irritation and cardiac irregularity occur. Finally, long-term neurological disorders may ensue if the disease has not received required care.

Lyme disease is not contagious. It is easier to treat soon after infection. If a tick has not been removed properly and early enough, a doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics.

Best avoid!

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