Prevention of Lyme disease

Learn how Lyme disease can be prevented and how to reduce tick habitats near your home. Also find out what you can do if you are bitten by a blacklegged tick.

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How can Lyme disease be prevented?

The best way to protect against Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Check this detailed map to find out where Lyme-infected ticks are confirmed to be found. Remember, as tick populations grow, Lyme disease can be acquired outside these areas. Here are some ways to protect yourself if you venture into forests or overgrown areas:

  • wear closed-toe shoes, long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • pull socks over pant legs
  • wear light-coloured clothes to spot ticks easier
  • use insect repellent containing DEET (active ingredient to keep bugs away) or
    Icaridin (always follow directions)
  • shower or bathe within 2 hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks
  • do a daily "full-body" check for ticks on yourself, children and pets

Ticks can be infected with more than one type of bacteria that can cause human illness. Guarding against tick bites will protect you from more than just Lyme disease.

How can you reduce tick habitats near your home?

Keep your lawn and yard well maintained to prevent ticks from living near your home:

  • keep the grass mowed
  • remove leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn and around stonewalls and woodpiles
  • discourage rodent activity by cleaning up and sealing stonewalls and small openings around the home
  • move firewood piles and bird feeders away from the house
  • keep your pets, particularly dogs, out of the woods and talk to your vet about tick repellents for your pets
  • move children's swing sets and sandboxes away from the woodland's edge and place them on a woodchip or mulch foundation
  • adopt hard landscape practices, use hard materials like stone and metals instead of soft materials like soil for planting

What should I do if I have been bitten by a blacklegged tick?

Ticks attach themselves to the skin. Removing ticks within 24 to 36 hours usually prevents infection. Using clean tweezers, grasp the head as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull straight out. Afterwards, wash the site of the bite with soap and water or disinfect with alcohol or hand sanitizer. If mouthparts break off and remain in the skin, remove them with tweezers. If you are unable to remove them easily, leave them alone and let the skin heal.

If possible, save the tick in a zip-lock bag and record the date of the bite. If you develop symptoms of Lyme disease in the weeks after being bitten, contact your health care provider right away. Bring the tick with you to your medical appointment, as it may help the doctor assess your illness.

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