Information provided by our TD Tree Partners : The Living City Foundation
What are ticks?
Ticks are small external parasites that feed on blood. Ticks extract the blood by cutting a hole in the host's skin. Blood is a requirement for ticks to survive and to enable them to move from one stage of their life to the next. Ticks are vectors, meaning they are capable of transmitting a number of diseases, including Lyme disease.
What is Lyme disease and how is it transmitted?
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacterium can be carried by Blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) in Ontario. The bacterium is normally found in small animals such as mice, squirrels, chipmunks, shrews, etc.
Ticks usually live in woods or tall grasslands. Ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi can spread the disease when they feed on blood from the host. 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 the animals or person make contact, the ticks climb on and then attach themselves to the skin to feed.
The Black Legged Tick (formerly called the deer tick) may carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, which is spread through a bite.
What to do if I find an attached tick?
1. Prompt removal of ticks from your skin will help prevent infection, since transmission of the Lyme disease agent usually requires the tick to be attached for more than 24 hours.
2. Using fine-tipped tweezers, carefully grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Pull it straight out, gently but firmly (Figure 3).
3. Don't squeeze it. Squeezing the tick can cause the Lyme disease agent to be accidentally introduced into your body.
4. Don't put anything on the tick, or try to burn the tick off.
5. After the tick has been removed, place it in a small bottle, and take it to your health care provider or regional public health unit as soon as you can.
6. It is important to remember where you most likely acquired the tick. It will help public health workers to identify areas of higher risk.
7. Thoroughly cleanse the bite site with rubbing alcohol and/or soap and water.
Keep the tick for examination If you discover a tick on your body and remove it before visiting your doctor, keep the tick for future examination. wait to have the tick tested or to develop symptoms. Seek treatment immediately.