Residents are being reminded to be vigilant for ticks on themselves and pets heading into summer and into the fall.
The most common tick in the province is the wood or dog tick, which generally doesn’t carry any diseases. However, blacklegged ticks have been found in the province and they can carry Lyme disease.
Blacklegged ticks can be found in tall grass, brush and wooded areas. While they are rare, the risk isn’t zero.
“There are more of these blacklegged ticks in some of the other provinces. As you know, a lot of people travel during summer and could get exposed to these ticks that potentially carry infection. Also, south of us in the U.S., the ticks can carry other kinds of illnesses as well as Lyme disease,” said Medical Health Officer Dr. David Torr.
Some precautionary tips include:
- Wearing light-coloured clothes so ticks can be seen easily.
- Wearing pants, long-sleeved shirts, and shoes that do not expose your feet.
- Pull socks over your pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up your leg.
- Using insect repellent that contains DEET or Icaridin and apply it to your skin and clothes.
- Clothes treated with the insecticide permethrin have been approved for use by people over the age of 16.
- Shower or bathe as soon as possible after being outside.
- Do a full-body tick check after being outside on yourself, your children, and your pets.
If a tick has attached itself to you, Torr explained the best way to remove it.
“You have to be very systematic. The best is if you have or can get tweezers that can get as close to the skin as possible and then gradually but steadily pull upwards and outwards to remove the tick,” he said.
Torr added that you should not twist the tick or squeeze or crush it.
Once the tick is removed take a picture of it and submit it to eTick, Saskatchewan’s image-based tick identification system. Also keep the euthanized tick in a bag and store it in the freezer for 24 hours in case further testing is needed.
If you were bitted by a blacklegged tick you should monitor for symptoms of Lyme disease including skin lesions and a “bulls-eye” or a dot with a circle around the bite. Other symptoms can include rashes, feeling ill, muscle aches, and headaches. If you do display symptoms, you should consult your physician immediately.
Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, 2022, eTick received 1,063 submission and 11 were identified as blacklegged ticks.