Tick season is back!

Anxious to get out of doors and enjoy the Okanagan spring?

You might want to refresh your tick protocols or perhaps learn them.

Turns out tick season has already started in parts of the Okanagan, Philip Hiesli, tells Castanet he has already found ticks crawling around on him after a walk near his Penticton home, "it is early, I don't usually see ticks until April."

According to Jim Wilson with CanLyme, some ticks are active all winter and others get active when the temperature hits -4 Celsius. "This time of year it's not unusual for ticks to be out, we've heard reports of ticks in several locations throughout B.C already."

Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, but the Western Black-legged tick common in much of B.C. can carry many diseases including Lyme.

Lyme disease is known as a “tick-borne illness” which means that Lyme-infected ticks spread the disease to people by biting them. Lyme is an inflammatory disease characterized at first by a rash, headache, fever, and chills, and later by possible arthritis and neurological and cardiac disorders.

According to Wilson, Lyme disease can be contracted anywhere in Canada but he says it's the ticks that are changing, "the percentage of ticks now carrying the disease is on the rise, so staying out of tick habitat, tall grass, bushy areas is really important."

Wilson recommends using spray-on products which contain DEET, wearing light clothing so you can spot the ticks and checking yourself and your pets thoroughly after being outdoors.

You can see a complete list of ways to protect yourself and your pets on the BC Centre for Disease Control website.

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