Lyme Disease Info
RE: Lyme Disease
Dear Principals, Staff, Parents, Guardians, and Students:
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by a certain species of ticks known as the blacklegged tick, sometimes called the deer tick. Though usually seen in the summer, ticks are still active in the fall. It is therefore important to be aware of ticks while enjoying the outdoors.
Blacklegged ticks are very small – sometimes as small as the period at the end of this sentence. Though blacklegged ticks in Nova Scotia can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, not every blacklegged tick will carry it.
The first symptom of Lyme disease is usually a rash that may look like a bull’s eye target near the tick bite. The rash can appear anywhere from 1-30 days after the bite. Symptoms such as fever, headache, tiredness, stiff neck, pain and swelling in the joints and general body aches and pains may develop. Symptoms may appear over a period of months.
If symptoms appear, it is very important to contact a health care provider. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics.
Follow these steps to help protect against ticks, especially in grassy, wooded or shrub-covered areas where ticks are more likely to be found:
Apply insect repellents containing DEET or icaridin to exposed skin and clothes. Follow the directions on the package carefully.
Wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants, closed-toed shoes, and tuck shirts into pants, and pant legs into socks.
Keep lawns mowed short. Check out other landscaping tips for discouraging ticks at http://novascotia.ca/dhw/cdpc/documents/Landscape-Management-Handbook.pdf
Put playground equipment in sunny, dry places away from wooded areas, yard edges, and trees.
Check your whole body for ticks. Don’t forget under your arms, in and around your ears, inside your belly button, back of your knees and in and around your body hair. Check your children and pets too.
When possible, take a bath or shower within two hours of coming indoors. This makes it easier to find ticks and washes away loose ones.
If you find ticks, here’s how to remove them safely:
o Carefully grasp the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible.
o Gently and slowly pull the tick straight out to prevent jerking, twisting or squeezing it.
o Clean and disinfect the site with soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide.
o Dispose of the tick in a sealed plastic bag and put in the garbage.
o Burning, squeezing or coaxing a tick’s mouthparts from your skin using other methods is not recommended.
To access a great educational video for kids about how to protect against tick bites, and to learn more about Lyme disease and blacklegged ticks, visit http://www.novascotia.ca/dhw/cdpc/lyme.asp - or call your local Public Health office at 902-481-5800.
Trevor Arnason MSc., MD, CCFP, FRCPC
Regional Medical Officer of Health – Central Zone, Nova Scotia Health Authority