Now that warmer weather has arrived in the Central Okanagan, check yourself, your children and your pets if you’re out for a walk, bike or hike.
Tick season is here, and although Lyme disease is rare in this part of British Columbia, it's not unheard of.
“The nicest part about living in Kelowna is that the most common tick is not the one that is likely to give you Lyme disease. But, sometimes you get a false sense of security,” said Janet Sperling, PHd Entomology, University of Alberta and president of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation.
“Whenever I talk about a tick I kind of divide it into two major groups. There’s the big ticks and the little ticks.
“When you see the big tick, this one isn’t really associated with Lyme disease very much. Now it is associated with Rocky Mountain spotted fever. It’s associated with a lot of other really nasty things. So, don’t think that it’s benign,” she adds.
So what should you do if you find a tick on you that appears to have bitten you?
Janet recommends you carry a small snack bag or another container. Pull the tick off very carefully by the head using tweezers, and pull straight up. Then put it in the bag.
When you get home, label the bag with the date and put it in the freezer. That way, if you start feeling symptoms you can have that tick sent off for testing.
One of the problems with Lyme disease is that it often goes undiagnosed for months or even years. Janet says don’t always expect to find the classic bull’s eye rash.
“So I would go purely on the idea that I’m an otherwise healthy person. If I get a tick bite and then I don’t feel well, I’m going to say go into high gear and make sure this isn’t Lyme disease.
“The rash is a symptom. Later on, you can get serious…it’s like long COVID. People get, neurologically they can’t think right.”
To find out more about ticks, Lyme disease, the symptoms and getting tested, go to the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation Website.