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Avoiding Lyme Disease

tick warning sign by campsiteThe best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by infected ticks. Here's what you can do to reduce your risk (especially if you venture into forests or overgrown areas between the woods and open spaces):

• Wear light-coloured clothing. It makes ticks easier to spot and remove before they feed.

• If possible, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.

• Wear closed footwear and socks. Tuck your pants into your socks. This is especially important if you are walking in long grass.

• Use a tick repellent that contains DEET (be sure to follow manufacturer's directions for use). Apply the repellent to your skin and outer clothing. Avoid your eyes and mouths, as well as cuts and scrapes.

• If in an area where blacklegged ticks are established, do a daily 'full body' check for ticks on yourself, your children and pets. A mirror can be useful to check the back of your body, or ask someone else to check it.

If you find a tick, remove it immediately. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if the tick was attached for more than 24 hours (or an unknown amount of time), or if you experience symptoms of Lyme disease.

• Shower as soon as you can after being outdoors to wash off any ticks.

• Protect your pet. Dogs and cats can carry ticks into your home or yard, potentially putting people at risk of infection. Take precautions such as putting tick and flea collars on your pets and, from time-to-time, checking them for ticks. Contact your veterinarian if you have concerns about your pet being exposed to ticks.

•  Maintain your property, especially if near woodland. Keep your grass mowed short, and trim bushes and tree branches to let in sunlight. If next to a wooded area, or an area with tall grass, create a border of gravel or woodchips one metre or wider around your yard. Move children's swing sets, sandboxes and playground equipment away from wooded areas, and consider placing play equipment on a woodchip or mulch foundation.