The Rural Pharmacist: Managing Ticks this Summer & Community Yard Sale/BBQ
-Devon Myers, Pharmacist & Owner
Bullseye! A term typically associated with accuracy and precision can unfortunately be the cause of concern during this time of the year. Spring is nearly over and it has officially become bug-season. Several patients have already contacted the pharmacy with questions regarding the prevalence of ticks in our area. For that reason I’d like to take this opportunity to shed some “lymelight” on ticks and how to properly protect yourselves this summer.
Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria uses ticks as a transportation vehicle. The bacteria itself resides inside the gut of a tick but can be transferred to humans when a tick feeds. Worth noting, not all species of ticks carry the bacteria responsible for causing Lyme Disease. In our area the black-legged tick, sometimes referred to as a deer tick, is the culprit responsible for spreading the disease. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) collects ticks throughout the year with the purpose of compiling data in order to determine the prevalence of infected ticks in our area.
I spoke with a member of the TBDHU who stated that last year roughly 10% of samples brought in were positive for the bacteria responsible for spreading Lyme Disease. This represents a low occurrence relative to other areas. In comparison, 50% of the tick samples brought in from the Kenora area were infected with the bacteria. At this time, Health Canada does not recognize Thunder Bay and the surrounding areas to be high risk for the transmission of Lyme Disease. That’s great! However, since there are no vaccines against Lyme Disease the prevention of tick bites remains the primary way to avoid an infection.
The black-legged tick is primarily found in wooded areas. Maybe you’re planning a hiking trip in Quetico Park? Or, maybe you’ll be doing some gardening at the cottage? Perhaps you’re planning to do some fishing in the Lake of Woods area this summer? Regardless, there are strategies to help limit tick exposure. For example, wearing light colored clothing can allow you to spot ticks more easily. Routinely performing a full-body check after being In a wooded area can help you determine if a tick has latched on. Special attention should be focused on the armpits, groin, back and, scalp. In addition, the removal of ticks within 24 hours of latching can reduce your chance of contracting Lyme Disease. This is because it can take up to 36 hours for the bacteria to pass from the tick to you. Maybe Brad Paisley was on to something with his lyrics “I want to check you for ticks” as part of his hit country song. Sounds like a healthcare advocate.
Diethyltoluamide, more commonly known as DEET, is also a good way to prevent tick bites. You can refer to our July 2018 article “What to do about insect bites and stings” on our webpage for age appropriate use of insect repellents.
Although the image of a bullseye rash comes to mind when people think of Lyme Disease, the actual rash does not need to meet this criteria. It could simply be a rash located around the insect bite that grows over a few days. In addition, symptoms such as a fever, muscle pain or fatigue may be present. Needless to say, if you’ve partaken in activities that may put you at higher risk and suspect that you’ve been bitten by an infected tick it is important to see your nurse practitioner or physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Lastly, I would like to announce that the second annual Rosslyn IDA Pharmacy BBQ and community yard sale will be taking place on Saturday June 15th. Last year the event was a huge success and with the help of our community we were able to raise hundreds of dollars for the Rosslyn Community Centre. All of the vendors at the event are from our community. If you’re interested in renting a table for the yard sale feel free to contact the pharmacy or visit our website at www.rosslynpharmacy.ca. Thanks and hope to see you all there!