How to gear up to prevent tick bites and stay safe from Lyme disease!
I remember the days when you could bushwhack through acres of field and just take a nap after for hours and hours. There was no rushing home to shower immediately and check your armpits. When I was younger Lyme disease was nonexistent but now it is becoming more serious and prevalent in Ontario. In this post let's take a look at what Lyme disease is and ways we have geared up to prevent tick bites.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease occurs when bacteria are transmitted by the bite of an infected black-legged tick. It can cause chronic joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis) or neurological symptoms which last a lifetime if left untreated. If caught early Lyme disease can be treated by antibiotics.
Not all ticks carry the bacteria that lead to Lyme disease. Currently, in Ontario, only certain areas are affected. You can view the risk map for 2020 below to see if the area you are traveling to is at risk.
What to do if you get bit?
If you get bit and show any signs and symptoms listed on the Ontario website then you should contact your health care professional as soon as possible. You should also try and keep the tick for testing. Look at the procedure on the Ontario website on how to remove a tick properly so that you don't cause Lyme bacteria to pass from the tick into your bloodstream.
What Gear Can We Use to Prevent Lyme Disease?
#1 - Permetherin - Spray or Clothes
This year Mark's started selling clothes treated with permethrin. Permetherin works by creating a layer on the clothes and when insects come in contact with this layer they die. Permetherin is toxic to some animals so be careful with it around pets it is not toxic in humans if handled properly. It should also be said that the permethrin layer washes off after multiple washes.
A few years ago we took a trip down to Maine and purchased a few bottles of spray-on permethrin (see below REI link) from an outdoors outfitter. We were able to treat our tent, jackets, pants, and shoes with the spray and it worked perfectly (we did this at a later date as you need to let it hang for 2-4 hours after applying). The sad part is that Ontario currently does not sell this spray so it is a bit hard to get. With the rise in ticks, I hope that this will become more readily available soon.
#2 - Your Eyes!
Know what areas to look in. They like the area behind your knees, on your head, in your groin area, and in your underarm area. We help each other do a full body scan before we go to sleep.
#3 - Tick Kit
Have tweezers and a container with a secure lid to remove a tick. Learn the proper way to remove a tick.
#4 - Wearing Light Coloured Clothes
So that you can see ticks.
#5 - A Proper Shower
Does a shower count as gear?? Take a shower to wash off any ticks.
- Tucking your pants into your socks can prevent ticks from entering through your pant legs. It makes it harder for ticks to get to your skin. I learned this tip from a mycology (aka mushroom) picking session out in Durham Forest 5 years ago!
Happy camping! If you have any tick tips please leave a comment below. I'm always interested in learning more :)