How can you prevent Lyme disease?
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to protect yourself from tick bites in the first place. Oxford County Public Health recommends these tips to fight the bite:
- Wear light colored clothing outdoors. It makes ticks easier to spot.
- Wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt.
- Wear closed footwear and socks, never sandals, when walking through fields or woods. Tuck your pants into your socks.
- Wear clothing treated with permethrin.
- Use an insect repellent that contains DEET or Icaridin. Apply it to your skin and outer clothing. Learn more about the safe application of DEET for children and adults.
- Put a tick and flea collar on your pets and check them periodically.
- After an outdoor activity, you can:
- Search your body well for ticks after walking through fields or woods. Pay special attention to areas such as the groin, scalp, and armpits.
- Put your clothes into a dryer on high heat for at least 60 minutes to kill any possible ticks
- Take a shower as soon as you can to wash off ticks that may not be attached to you
- Check your pets regularly after time spent outdoors
How do I remove a tick?
A) Using a pair of tweezers:
- Carefully grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull upward slowly, but try not to twist or crush the tick.
- If parts of the tick's mouth remain in your skin, remove them with tweezers. If this is difficult to do, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
If you are not comfortable removing a tick, see a health care provider as soon as possible.
(Public Health Agency of Canada - updated June 2015) Diagram courtesy of the Public Health Agency of Canada
B) Using a tick key:
- Place the tick key hole over the tick.
- Slide the tick key so the tick is in the narrow pointed end.
- Pull the key away from the skin to remove the tick easily.
Image courtesy of Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
After the tick is removed:
- Gently wash the bite with soap and water and disinfect with an alcohol-based hand rub. Don’t forget to disinfect the tweezers or the tick key too.
- Put a paper towel in an airtight plastic container. The container should be big enough to hold the tick without damaging it. Also make sure the container has a top that fastens securely (for example, a pill bottle).
- Transfer the tick to the container using tweezers, gloves or other protection.
- Label the container with the following information:
- Your name
- Location and date the tick was collected
- Note: we only submit ticks that were attached to human hosts.
Ticks that were attached to a dog or cat will not be accepted at the health unit.
Please consult with your vet regarding ticks from domestic pets.
- If you cannot submit the tick immediately, you can store it in a container for up to 10 days. Store live ticks in the refrigerator, and dead ticks in the freezer.
- All tick submissions should be directed to:
Southwestern Public Health
410 Buller Street, Woodstock, ON N4S 4N2
519-421-9901, or 1-800-922-0096
- If you develop symptoms of Lyme disease in the weeks following the bite, contact your health care provider right away.
- Removing a tick within 24 hours will significantly reduce your risk of infection.