Lyme Disease

The first human case of Lyme Disease was reported in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia, in Summer 2002.

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection, which is transmitted to humans from infected deer ticks (blacklegged ticks). Deer ticks are found on grass and shrubs and attach themselves to passing animals and people.

An infected tick can transmit the disease only after it has been attached to a person for at least 24 hours so it is important to shower and/or make a thorough daily check of your body after spending time in tall grass, brush or wooded areas.

Precautions
Recommended precautions that may be taken include:

  • making it easier to see ticks by wearing light clothes - preferably long sleeved shirt and long pants
  • tucking your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks to prevent ticks from reaching your skin
  • using an approved tick repellant containing DEET
  • conducting frequent visual checks of clothing and any exposed skin (ticks will attach anywhere but prefer body creases such as armpits, back of knees, head, nape of the neck, groin, etc.)

Tick Removal procedure
If you find an attached tick it is important to remove it properly:

  • use a fine-point tweezer
  • grasp the tick at the place of attachment, near its head and as close as to your skin as possible
  • slowly pull it out straight, avoid twisting or turning the tick - so the mouth parts are released and do not break off in the skin
  • if you must use fingers, use a leaf or tissue to avoid contact with infected tick fluids
  • do not prick, crush or burn the attached tick as it may release infected fluids or tissue
  • wash hands, disinfect the tweezers and bite site
  • contact your doctor to determine if treatment is needed - fill out the appropriate forms
  • try to collect the tick to have the species determined by NS Department of Natural Resources personnel

Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is often identified as a red rash starting at the bite site from 3-30 days after the bite and spreading out as a growing circle (bull's eye).

Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, and swollen lymph glands may accompany the rash. The disease may result in neurological and muscular problems weeks or even months after the original infection. Serious conditions such as recurrent meningitis, heart problems, and arthritis may be present for years.

Treatment
Lyme disease can be successfully treated, particularly in the early stages, with antibiotics.

Resources

Lyme Disease - Deer Ticks
NS Department of Environment & Labour Occupational Health & Safety Division
1-800-952-2687

Lyme Disease/Tick Fact Sheet
NS Department of Health
1-800-387-6665