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Lyme Disease

 

Lyme disease is on the rise across Canada. It is a serious illness that is spread by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. 

Tick populations are rapidly growing and spreading across many regions in Canadian provinces, including Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia. Lyme disease is caused by a type of bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. Infected Blacklegged ticks can spread Lyme disease to humans through their bite. Ticks become infected with Lyme disease by feeding on infected wild animals such as deer, birds, and small rodents.

Lyme Disease Symptoms

Lyme disease can have serious effects on people and pets and the symptoms can differ from person to person. Signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease can include one or a combination of the following with varying degrees of severity:

  • Skin Rash
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Fever or chills
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Paralysis
  • Spasms or weakness
  • Mental confusion
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Swollen lymph nodes
Close up of a tick bite
Ticks spread Lyme Disease

What to do if you are bitten by a tick

Removing ticks

  • Using clean tweezers, carefully grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull slowly upward, but try not to twist or crush the tick.
  • Once the tick is removed, wash the area where you were bitten with soap and water. You may also disinfect the area with alcohol or hand sanitizer. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • If parts of the tick's mouth break off and remain in your skin, remove them with tweezers. Visit your health care provider if you cannot remove:
  • parts of the tick's mouth in your skin
  • the tick itself because it has buried itself deep into your skin

Saving Ticks

  • If you cannot submit the tick for testing right away (details on submitting ticks follow in the next section), then:
  • Save the tick in a plastic bag that you can seal or a pill bottle. Record the location and date of the bite.
  • Store the container for up to 10 days in the refrigerator for live ticks or freezer, for dead ticks

Treatment for Lyme Disease

Lyme disease can be effectively treated with 2 to 4 weeks of antibiotics. The sooner treatments start, the better

Depending on your symptoms, and if you are diagnosed in the later stages of the disease, you may require a longer course of antibiotics. Some people experience symptoms that continue more than 6 months after treatment. Research continues into the causes of these persistent symptoms and methods of treatment.

 

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