Skip to content

Unseasonable warmth has tick season arriving early in the West Kootenay

When a tick is found on a person or pet, proper removal is necessary
Ticks are common in the Interior Health region, though the health authority says most are wood ticks and do not carry Lyme disease. Photo: Unsplash

With prevailing warm and dry temperatures across much of the Kootenays, word is — most recently from some brush-clearers in Trail — that there’s already been hikers, children and pets coming home with ticks after outdoor adventures.

Like many illnesses, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to tick-related diseases.

Interior Health (IH) recommends walking on cleared trails when in tall grass or wooded areas, covering up with light-coloured clothing to help spot ticks, tucking pant legs into socks or boots, and applying insect repellent containing DEET on uncovered skin.

To help keep ticks away from homes and yard, lawns should be kept short and fallen leaves and weeds removed.

As far as four-legged carriers, whether your pet is a homebody or frequents the countryside, dogs and cats should be checked for ticks every time they come back in the house now that the weather is warming and more time is spent outdoors.

Begin by brushing your fingers through the fur and applying enough pressure to feel any small bumps. Be sure to check between your dog’s toes, behind ears, under armpits and around the tail and head, too. If you do feel a bump, pull the fur apart to see what’s there.

Embedded ticks vary in size depending on how long it has been attached. However, they usually are black or dark brown in color and turn a greyish-white after feeding, in what’s called the engorged state.

When a tick is found on a person or pet, proper removal is necessary.

The health authority has a series of “what to do” guidelines to remove these bloodsuckers from humans and animal, which begins with wearing gloves.

When removing the parasite with gloved hands, be careful not to crush it as this could cause the tick to eject its stomach contents onto the skin.

IH tips to remove ticks safely include:

Use needle-nose tweezers to gently grasp the tick close to the skin;

Without squeezing, pull the tick straight out;

After removal, clean the area with soap and water;

Where there’s one tick there could be more, so check carefully for others.

For more information and to identify a tick with a photo visit:

Read more: #Local News

Read more: SOBC-Trail athletes take the plunge

Ixodes ticks (Ixodes pacificus or Ixodes angustus) are the species that transmit Lyme disease. They are more common throughout coastal B.C. but may be present in some Interior Health areas. While less than one per cent of Ixodes in B.C. carry Lyme disease, it is important to recognize the symptoms. In addition to a fever, headache, and muscle pain, people infected with Lyme disease will often develop a rash that looks like a “bull’s eye” target which expands from the site of the tick bite.

Ticks also have toxins that can cause temporary muscle weakness and paralysis if they are attached for several days – especially in children or seniors – but the symptoms fade once the tick is removed from the skin. The signs of many tick-borne infections can be quite similar and include fever, headache, muscle pain and rash.

N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, also called DEET or diethyltoluamide, is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents. It is a slightly yellow oil intended to be applied to the skin or to clothing and provides protection against mosquitoes, flies, ticks, fleas, chiggers, leeches and many biting insects. DEET is a registered active ingredient that has been approved by Health Canada for use by children and adults.

Sheri Regnier

About the Author: Sheri Regnier

Read more