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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Lyme Disease - Prevention and Personal Protection

Lyme disease is passed on to humans through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick.1 Infected blacklegged ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours in order to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.1 Therefore, in order to prevent getting Lyme disease, it is important to take some simple steps to help make sure you do not get bitten by a tick.

 

What is personal protection?

Personal protection involves taking steps to help stop ticks from biting you and passing on Lyme disease. These steps should be taken when you are enjoying the outdoors to help prevent a tick bite:1

  • Wear light coloured clothes to make it easier to spot ticks.
  • Wear long pants, a long sleeved shirt, closed-toe shoes and tuck your pants into your socks when walking in grassy or wooded areas.
  • Apply insect repellent / bug spray containing DEET or Icaridin to clothing and exposed skin (always follow label directions). View personal insect repellents for information on how to choose the right one for your needs.
  • Walk on cleared paths or trails.
  • Keep children and pets from wandering off paths.
  • Avoid using trails created by animals (such as deer and moose), as ticks are often found on the grass and plants along these trails.
  • Check yourself, family members, pets, and outdoor gear (e.g. backpacks) after leaving an area where ticks may live. For example after visiting trails, long grass and wooded areas. View: Top 10 tick hiding spots on your body.
  • Shower or bathe as soon as possible, as it can help you find unattached ticks.

How to reduce tick habitats near your home:1

  • Keep grass cut short in areas around your home and cottage where people and pets may walk.
  • Remove leaf litter, brush, long grass and weeds at the edge of the lawn and around stonewalls and woodpiles.
  • Prune shrubs and trees to allow sunlight to filter through.
  • Create a 1-metre or wider wood chip, mulch or gravel border between your lawn and woods, shrubs or stone edges.
  • Seal stone walls and other openings to help prevent animals such as deer, mice and other rodents from bringing ticks into your yard.
  • Place patios, decks and children's playground sets in sunny areas of the yard and away from yard edges. Place playground sets on a mulch or wood chip surface.

See the Lyme disease web page to learn more about what ticks are and where they can be found.

 

 

How to properly remove a tick

A picture of how to properly remove a tick, by pulling straight up from the skin using tweezers and steady pressure.

For safe removal of a tick, the Middlesex-London Health Unit suggests you follow these instructions:

  • Try to wear gloves when handling an engorged (blood fed) tick.
  • Use tweezers and grab the tick as close to the head as possible. Do not use your fingers.
  • Pull the tick upward and away from the body with steady pressure. Be sure to pull the tick straight out.
  • Once the tick has been removed, clean the area with soap and water. Seek medical attention if you are concerned about a possible skin infection.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly.

If possible, save the tick so it can be submitted to etick.ca or the Health Unit for identification. See How to Submit a Tick to the Health Unit.

 

What happens if a tick is found on a person’s body?

If you find a tick on person’s body, it is important to remove the tick as soon as possible. Infected blacklegged ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours in order to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.1 View Ticks in Middlesex-London for more information on which types of ticks can pass on Lyme disease. If you remove a tick from a person's body you can submit a photo to etick.ca for identification or submit it to the Health Unit for identification. Learn more about how to identify and remove a tick from your body by visiting the Government of Canada - Lyme disease: How to remove and identify a tick website.

Additional Information 

For more information about Lyme Disease, please contact the Vector-Borne Disease team at:

  • 519-663-5317

Copyright

Please note: Where indicated, the source of the information on this web page is the Government of Canada's Lyme disease: Prevention and risks web page. The information is a copy of the version available at the URL in the references section below.

 
Date of creation: October 1, 2012
Last modified on: February 9, 2022
 
 

References

1Government of Canada. (2022, January 10). Lyme disease: Prevention and risks. Retrieved from
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/lyme-disease/prevention-lyme-disease.html