How to protect yourself from ticks while outdoors this summer
VANCOUVER -- With COVID-19 limiting travel, many B.C. residents are looking to enjoy local parks, hiking trails and campsites closer to home.
But even though medical experts say the likelihood of coronavirus transmission is reduced outside, there are other risks nature enthusiasts should be aware of during the spring and summer, like ticks.
Dr. Steve Schofield, one of Canada's leading bug experts, shared some tips for how locals can protect themselves from ticks on CTV Morning Live Thursday.
The following Q & A is part of a four-minute interview from CTV Morning Live and has been edited for length and clarity. Watch the full interview above.
Jason Pires: Where can ticks be found?
Dr. Steve Schofield: They're found across the country. Usually you find them, however, in areas where you have trees, shrubs and wildlife.
Pires: Can they be in your backyard?
Schofield: Absolutely they can be in your backyard. If you have a nice backyard, you have trees, you have squirrels, you have mice, you certainly can have ticks.
Pires: Why are they such a problem this time of year?
Schofield: This is when, quite often, depending on the species, the adult ticks wake up and they're looking for some blood to make some baby ticks. So they're out and about, looking for someone to feed on.
Pires: What is the impact they can have on humans and why should we be concerned?
Schofield: No one likes to be fed on by a tick. They feed for a long period of time, four, five, sometimes six days. You can react to the bites. Some people indeed can have a strong reaction that occasionally, very rarely, causes paralysis. Of course, they can also transmit diseases that we're concerned about. Things like the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Pires: So how do we protect ourselves when we're going camping or just spending time outdoors?
Schofield: There's really a couple of ways. Firstly, don't get bit. Secondly, if you do get bit, you get them off quickly.
Pires: Is there a certain bug spray we should be looking for to prevent these ticks from biting us?
Schofield: There's a number of things you can do. You can certainly, as part of your approach to avoiding tick bites, use repellents that you put on your skin. More recently, and I think this is really exciting, there's clothing that's treated with a repellent … and it actually binds the repellant right into the fibres and that means the repellent lasts a long time and it works really, really well against things like ticks that crawl.
Ticks like biting in all those nasty areas, those hidden areas. So those areas you should check and you should check frequently when you're outside – or at least once a day – are nooks and crannies. So your belly button, your posterior, behind your ears, in your ears.
And indeed for things like ticks that transmit Lyme disease, if you can get them off within a day, generally they can't transmit the parasite that we're worried about. So it's a really good idea to do tick checks that complements the use of … repellents.
Pires: When should you get medical attention?
Schofield: Your threshold for seeking medical attention should always be low. In the case of something like tick paralysis, it's very rare. What's happening in that situation is as the tick feeds on you, it's actually spitting into you because it's on you for a very long period of time so that it can get the blood that it wants. We react to that, and sometimes it causes this paralysis. Certainly, if you find a tick on you and you're not doing so well, you should seek medical attention.