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Specialist talks about how to protect ourselves from ticks

When out on the trails, you’re enjoying nature and escaping day-to-day life. You’re usually not on the lookout for hitchhikers, but ticks are sure looking to catch a ride.

There are two ticks to look out for, the American dog tick, commonly known as a wood tick, and the black-legged tick, or deer tick.

“Those two species you can find here in Manitoba, and they will bite humans, and our pets as well,” said Dr. Kateryn Rochon, Veterinary Entomology at the University of Manitoba.

According to Dr. Rochon, ticks are usually found at ground level, and on the contrary of what most people think, they cannot jump or fly. Instead, they quest, meaning that when they are looking for a host, they will climb into the tip of the grass and wait until someone or something passes along.

“When you’re walking down a trail, and you brush against those little pieces of grass, the tick is there with its little legs ready to go, and it just sort of attaches,” she said.

Ticks are most commonly seen where there is a lot of vegetation and trees, but they can also be spotted at parks or in your backyard.

“A tick bite by itself it’s not that dangerous, however if that tick is carrying a certain bacteria or virus, while it feeds itself from your blood it can transmit it to you,” said Dr. Rochon.

Amongst the diseases that ticks can transmit are Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and Powassan virus. Dr. Rochon explains that ticks will come out in the spring, usually around April when we start to get warmer and sunnier days, and they stay until the end of fall.

“If there’s no snow on the ground, it’s tick season,” she said. “So if you know you’ve been in an area where there might be ticks, check yourself as soon as you get home.”

The most likely areas to find a tick is around the scalp, the back of your neck, the armpits, the sides of the body, the waist and behind the knees. If you find one, it is recommended to remove it as soon as possible by grabbing as close to the skin as you can and using tweezers to pull it straight up slowly. When it comes to animals, some dogs are susceptible to ticks based on their type of fur, while cats don’t tend to have them because they are very good at grooming.

“When we look for ticks on animals, you’re gonna feel it first before you see it,” said Dr. Rochon. “You will usually find them in their inner legs, toes and ears.”

To prevent tick bites, you should try to cover most of your skin when going out, such as wearing shoes or boots, socks and long pants. Using light-coloured clothes can also help spot the tick and avoid it, as well as using repellents specific for ticks and throwing your clothes into the dryer when you get home.

Landscape tips:

Tick bite prevention, check, and removal:

Tick hiding spots on your body:

Tick-borne diseases & children:

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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