The health unit is urging you to keep the bug spray handy.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge Health Unit is asking people to be aware of ticks and more importantly Lyme disease for “at least a few more weeks.”

An Engorged Black-legged Tick

Health unit officials say that the risk of Lyme disease is still possible until the temperatures get to near-freezing. This is because the black-legged tick that carries the disease is still active until the temperatures drop.

Richard Ovcharovich, the Manager of Environmental Health, said that “black-legged ticks are still very active in fall and in need of ‘blood meal’ to get them through the next part of their lifecycle,” Ovcharovich adds “with more people hiking trails, getting out to enjoy the fall colours, or readying for hunting season, the risk of encountering black-legged ticks is increased too.”

The health unit says that the ticks settle in tall grass and bushes until they are able to attach to a person or animal that comes by.

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria passed onto humans and pets, especially when the tick feeds on them for 24 hours or more.

Ovcharovich said you can reduce the risk of getting bit by staying on trails if walking through the woods.  He also said to wear closed footwear, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Ovcharovich added that using repellent with DEET is crucial, and finally checking yourself, your family, and your pets each time you go outside.

When you are checking for ticks it is important to pay close attention to the groin, scalp, ankles, armpits, navel and behind the ears and knees. The health unit says it is a good practice to shower as soon as you get home from your time outdoors.

If you do find a tick on yourself or others, remove it as soon as possible by grabbing onto the tick as close to the skin as possible and pulling it straight out. Getting the entire tick out is important.

The health unit says that if the tick is engorged you need to see a health care provider as soon as possible. Removed ticks can be taken to your local health unit so that they can be tested and tracked.