Whether you’ve ever had a tick or not, these little guys are disgusting creatures that prey on the blood of the innocent. (well, maybe we’re not that innocent…) These bad boys have been increasing in numbers over the recent years and can be found close to rivers, and in or around tall grass. Now, the big fear around ticks are their ability to carry lyme disease (Borrelia b.) which is a blood-borne bacteria that can cause illness. You may take some solace in knowing that ~97% of the ticks in Saskatchewan collected from 2007-2017 don’t carry lyme disease.(1)(but can carry other things) Regardless of the currently lower risk in Saskatchewan, it looks like the numbers are changing a bit yearly, and some experts believe that the risk will be increasing in Saskatchewan going forward.(2)
Types of Ticks
So… it’s not very simple, but I’ll make it as simple as I can. There are easily 7 different types of ticks that are common in Canada: Deer Ticks(Ixodes s.), Black legged ticks(Ixodes p.),Ixodes a.(no common name), Lone star tick(Amblyomma a.), American dog tick(Dermacentor v.), Brown dog tick(Rhipicephalus s.), and Rocky mountain wood tick(Dermacentor a.). The Deer Tick and Black-legged tick are the ones to worry about carrying Lyme, but currently aren’t very common in Saskatchewan (around 3% of sampled ticks)–however are becoming more numerous out east and are expected to make their way west. The American dog tick is the most common tick in Saskatchewan and hasn’t been found to carry Lyme disease (nice!). The other ticks mentioned can carry Lyme, or other Borellia species, but it’s either less common or we don’t have good evidence to know for sure yet, so they get a “maybe”, but it’s best to assume they can. Now – even though the most prevalent tick in Saskatchewan doesn’t carry Lyme, it can certainly carry other infections like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. So long story short, take ticks a little seriously. Dog ticks are pretty easy to identify, as they look quite different from the other tick species.
Check for Ticks
One of the best things to do for yourself is tick checks: ticks usually hang out on tall grass and grab hold of you the second they are given the opportunity – and it doesn’t take much. From there they rarely latch on right away, and start to climb to a darker more secluded place. While you’re out, watch for them and knock ’em off if you can while they’re still climbing.
What do I do if a tick bites me?
So, the good news is that the sooner you catch the tick, the better your chances.
According to some sources Ticks usually take at least 15-18 minutes to fully latch, and up to 24 hours to transmit Lyme.
- After possible exposure, as soon as you can, do a tick check – try to scan every part of your body using a mirror or with aid of someone you’re comfortable with to look around body hair, pits/groin, or anywhere else.
- If you find a tick remove it ASAP with a tick tool or fine tweezers (grab the thorax/head, not the body) and gently pluck it off.
- Don’t burn or distress the tick so that it regurgitates.
- SAVE THE TICK in something, and take it with you to your doctor so that it can be tested by public health.
- From there, your doctor may give you prophylactic antibiotics for a short while just incase.
- Then come see me if you get any bowel problems from the antibiotics (nice plug, right?). In my opinion, the antibiotics are super worth it, but if you decline and want something more natural, then at least come and get an Intravenous vitamin C treatment or some other natural immune support.