As we get out in nature and begin to enjoy all of what summer has to offer, it’s important to stay wary of ticks. In case you didn’t know, many of those parasitic arachnids in our neck of the woods carry Lyme Disease.
Luckily, Quebec’s public health expertise and reference centre (INSPQ) has an interactive Lyme disease risk map where you can enter a location to see if it’s a risk area for Borrelia burgdorferi.
According to the province’s public health department, there are a dozen species of ticks in Quebec. Since ticks can be transported by birds, they are found in almost all regions of Quebec. However, not all of them carry the dangerous bacteria.
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According to available surveillance data, Ixodes scapularis ticks are established in the following areas:
Most tick bites are painless and go unnoticed by people. A common early symptom is a skin rash.
If Lyme Disease is not detected and treated early, the bacteria can spread in the blood and cause other symptoms, which develop weeks or months after the bite. Possible symptoms include:
- The appearance of several expanding rashes, with little or no pain or itching
- Facial paralysis, numbness in a limb, neck pain, severe headaches
- Swelling in one or more joints (for example, the knee); it is usually painless
- Chest pain, palpitations or dizziness
Quebec’s government has published a list of precautions one can take to avoid coming into contact with a tick in the wilderness:
- Take your walks preferably on trails and avoid tall grass.
- Use insect repellent on every exposed part of your body, avoiding your face.
- Wear a hat, closed shoes, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants.
- Tuck your shirt into your pants.
- Tuck your pants into your socks or boots.
- Wear bright-coloured clothing during your walks. Clear colors make ticks more visible.