Thank you for joining us for this episode of Health and Safety To Go. Today we’re talking about what Lyme disease is and how we can protect ourselves from ticks.
In Canada, being able to work outside during the summer months is a welcomed opportunity for many workers to enjoy the warmer temperatures, spend more time outdoors, and to work closer to nature. However, working outside can bring an increased risk of exposure to the growing health threat posed by Lyme disease.
Lyme borreliosis or "Lyme disease" is a tick-borne illness caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. This bacterium is hosted primarily by small rodents, and is passed to humans by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick.
Ticks cannot fly - they hang onto small bushes or tall grasses and are usually found close to the ground. They wait for an animal or person to pass near them and when they make contact, the ticks attach themselves to the skin to feed.
High risk areas in Canada include southern British Columbia, southeastern and south-central Manitoba, southern and eastern Ontario, southern Quebec, southern New Brunswick, and parts of Nova Scotia, usually in forested and overgrown areas. Your risk of a tick bite is highest in the spring and summer months. However, these insects can be active throughout much of the year.
Because the ticks are small, their bites are usually painless, and you may not know you've been bitten. With Lyme disease on the rise, it's important to be on the lookout for ticks and to know the signs and symptoms of the disease.
The symptoms and severity of Lyme disease can vary from person to person. A circular rash, often referred to as a "bull's eye" rash because it will have rings spreading from the bite site, may appear three days to a month after infection. The appearance of this rash is a sure sign of a tick bite. If you have this rash or any other symptoms of Lyme disease, such as fatigue, fever, chills o muscle spasms or weakness, to name a few, you should see a doctor and explain that you have been in an area where you may have been exposed to ticks.
You Do if You Find a Tick?
Ticks generally take 24 hours or longer after they contact the body to begin feeding. Remove ticks within 24-36 hours to reduce your risk of infection with Lyme disease.
To remove a tick, use needle-nose tweezers to firmly grasp the tick, as close to your skin as possible. Pull the tick away from your skin with a steady motion without squeezing or twisting it as this can cause the harmful bacteria to be released into the body. Clean the area with soap and water. After handling ticks, discard gloves and paper toweling, and wash hands and tweezers thoroughly.
This next tip is very important: Save the tick for testing. Put it in a sealed container or double zip lock bag. Bring the tick to your doctor or your local health unit office to be sent for testing for Lyme disease.
Lastly, don’t forget to wash and dry work clothes in a hot dryer to kill any ticks present.
Here are a few tips on how you can protect yourself from ticks while working.
Workers should wear closed-toe shoes, long sleeved shirts, and pants and socks should be pulled over pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up the legs. Also, light-coloured clothing should be worn to make spotting ticks easier.
Another way to protect your self is to use an insect/tick repellent that contains DEET or Icaridin. Follow the manufacturer's directions for use.
Lastly, perform a complete body inspection after being in an area where ticks may live. Check for ticks on and under clothing, plus the armpits, in and around the scalp and hair, navel, groin, and behind the ears and knees, and shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks.
For more information about protecting yourself from lyme disease, visit www.ccohs.ca, thanks for listening everyone.