Protect Your Kids from Ticks This Summer

Extended time spent outdoors can increase your risk of exposure to ticks and Lyme Disease.

Summertime usually means lots of outside time for families. Of course, you don’t want to lock your children inside to protect them from the risks of being outdoors. But it still makes sense to be aware of potential dangers so you can recognize the signs of infection quickly to get medical help when necessary.

According to the Canadian government, the reported cases of Lyme disease has grown steadily in Canada, from 144 in 2009 to 987 in 2016. In 2015. The disease was reported in nine Canadian provinces, with 91 per cent reported in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. In fact, Nova Scotians were 10 times as likely to be afflicted with the disease. Ticks can be as small as a poppy seed with almost painless bites, but you have less than 48 hours from the time you are bitten to stop the spread of bacteria.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease is spread from borrelia burgdorferi bacteria from a tick bite. There are two types of ticks that can carry and spread this bacteria.

How is it spread?

Lyme disease is spread through the bacteria released by a bite from an infected tick. Just because you have gotten a tick bite does not mean you will contact the disease. You cannot catch Lyme Disease through human contact with an infected person or pet. Although, having outdoor pets can increase the chances of ticks entering your home.
Pregnant women who suspect they may have contracted Lyme Disease are encouraged to seek medical help immediately as the bacteria can have adverse affects on their unborn child. There is no evidence of Lyme disease being spread through breast feeding.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Signs and symptoms can vary and will often show up between three and 30 days after being bitten by an infected tick. One of the tell-tale symptoms of an infected bite is a raised bite with a ring, resembling a bulls eye. Most experience mild flu-like symptoms including headache, muscle pain, fever, and chills. If left untreated, the symptoms can worsen and include:

*Facial paralysis
*Severe headache
*Heart issues (palpitations, abnormal heartbeat)
*Neurological disorders such as dizziness, memory loss and confusion
*Arthritis pain

How to limit your risk:

1. When outdoors for extended periods of time, children over the age of two are encouraged to wear a bug spray containing DEET. Younger children or those wishing to avoid DEET can make their own natural repellent.
2. Avoid areas where ticks are known to be present, be aware of the risk of ticks when camping, fishing, hiking or traveling in areas with long grass.
3. Try to walk on the cleared paths.
4. Wear long sleeved clothes and close toed shoes.
5. Tuck pants into socks when walking through long grass.
6. Wear light coloured clothing so the bugs are easier to spot.
7. Pay attention to the hairline, under the arms, in the belly button and between the legs.
8. Check your outdoor gear and pets as well to prevent ticks from entering your home.
9. If you’re concerned about a high level of exposure, shower or bathe with warm water within two hours of returning from an outdoor area.
10. Put your outdoor clothing into a hot dryer for ten minutes to kill any possible ticks.

If you find a tick, be sure to remove it with tweezers without twisting. Put it in a plastic sandwich bag so it can be tested by your doctor.

Please consult your doctor if you have any concerns regarding you and your family’s exposure to Lyme Disease.

Melissa Robertson

Melissa Robertson

Melissa Robertson divides her time between writing her for the Parent Life Network and wrangling her three children that have lovingly helped her earn the title 'hot mess mom'.