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Health unit recommends watching for ticks this fall

Going into Thanksgiving weekend, the local health unit is reminding residents to keep an eye out for blacklegged ticks.

Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease, and remain active in temperatures as low as 5 degrees C, according to Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPRDHU) officials.

The HKPRDHU advises people going outdoors to protect themselves by wearing closed shoes and long-sleeved shirts and pants, pulling their socks over their pant legs, applying bug spray which contains DEET, and staying on marked trails. Keeping ticks off your property by trimming grass, bushes, and branches is also recommended.

The ticks can be found almost anywhere in Ontario, according to Public Health Ontario. They wait on tall grass and bushes, and attach themselves to people or animals passing by to feed on their blood. The longer they feed, the more likely they are to pass on Lyme Disease. The health unit recommends checking yourself and your pets for ticks before going inside.

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The Health Unit says remove any ticks as soon as you see them by using fine-tipped tweezers to grip the tick’s head close to the skin, pulling it out straight and slowly, and washing the bite area with soapy water or alcohol-based sanitizer.

If a tick has been attached to you for more than 24 hours or is engorged after feeding on you for a long time, seek medical attention. Lyme Disease symptoms, such as skin rash, fever, headache, and pain in muscle or joints is also cause for a visit to a healthcare provider. If caught early, the health unit says Lyme Disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics.

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