As summer gets underway, Albertans are reminded to submit any ticks they find to the Alberta Tick Surveillance Program. The program tests first for the type of tick and then, if necessary, for the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease in humans.
Lyme disease is an illness caused by bacteria that is spread through the bite of a blacklegged deer tick. Lyme disease in humans can have serious symptoms but can be effectively treated with standard antibiotics, especially if diagnosed early.
The risk of being bitten by a tick infected with the Lyme bacteria in Alberta is very low. 63 cases of Lyme disease were reported to Alberta Health between 1991 and 2014, and all were acquired while travelling outside the province to areas where Lyme disease is circulating.
How to safely remove a tick
- With tweezers, gently grasp its head and mouth parts as close to your skin as possible.
- Slowly pull the tick straight out – do not jerk or twist it. Try not to squash it.
- Save the tick in a clean, empty pill bottle or zip-lock bag. Do not add ventilation. Add a small piece of tissue, lightly moistened with water, to prevent the tick from drying out.
- Do not apply matches, cigarettes, or petroleum jellies to the tick as these may cause an infected tick to release the bacteria into the wound.
Remember, to protect yourself from tick bites, cover up as much skin as you can when going into wooded or grassy areas, use bug spray that contains the chemical DEET, and check your pets for ticks after they’ve been outside.
More information on how to submit a tick to the Tick Surveillance Program is available on the Alberta Health website www.health.alberta.ca/health-info/lyme-disease.html