Tick season in Manitoba: How to protect yourself from bites

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Winter is finally over! The weather is now warm and nice. It’s the time for gardening and walking outside. But don’t forget – it’s also the time for ticks.

What are ticks?

Ticks are part of the spider family. They have eight legs, not six like insects. Ticks need to drink blood to grow and live. They bite animals and people to get blood.

There are about 800 kinds of ticks in the world. We need to be careful of blacklegged ticks. They can make people sick with Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis. Babesiosis is like malaria.

In Manitoba, blacklegged ticks are active from early spring to late fall.

How to prevent tick bites:

The Winnipeg Health Region wants people in Manitoba to:

  1. find out where ticks live
  2. reduce the chance of coming into contact with ticks
  3. know the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease

Learn where ticks are located

Ticks are usually found in places with trees, bushes, and moisture. They like to live near forests and areas with many plants. The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says this. There are special Blacklegged Tick Risk Areas in Manitoba where this kind of tick is more common. Ticks can be found in other places too, but the chance of getting Lyme disease is low outside of the risk areas.

Minimize risk of exposure

If you live close to a forest and want to go for a walk, reduce the risk by doing these things:

  1. Wear shoes that cover your toes and protect your skin.
  2. Wear socks.
  3. Put your long-sleeved shirt into your pants.
  4. Wear light-colored clothes.
  5. Walk in the middle of paths and stay away from tall plants.
  6. Use a good bug spray like DEET or Icaridin (or Picaridin).
    • Follow the instructions on the bottle.
    • Don’t spray it right on your face.
    • Don’t use products that have both bug spray and sunscreen.
    • If you need sunscreen, put it on first. Wait 15 minutes, then put on the bug spray.
    • You can put on more bug spray if bugs are biting you or if you think you need it.
  7. Look at your skin (and hair) for ticks after being outside. Check your kids and pets too.
  8. Take a shower or bath within two hours of coming back inside.

Recognize the symptoms of Lyme disease

Signs of sickness from tick bites:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Feeling sick
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Swollen glands
  • Sore joints
  • Feeling very tired
  • Trouble sleeping

Symptoms can begin from three days to one month after a bite. A round rash might appear. It looks like a target with a strong round rash inside a larger circle. But, not everyone with the infection will have this rash. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned before, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor.

If you find a tick on your skin, don’t squash it. Squashing it can make it go deeper and harder to take out. Instead, do the following:

  1. Use a tweezer to carefully pick up the tick without twisting. Be careful not to break its body and leave the head in your skin.
  2. Put it in a jar or plastic bag.
  3. Take a photo of the tick and send it to theeTick website or app to have it checked.
  4. The information you give will be helpful if you need to see a doctor. It can also help others looking for information on the eTick site.

Watch this video to learn how to take a tick off your skin safely:

Healthy Canadians

Taking a tick off quickly lowers the risk of infection. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can ask a healthcare provider to help you.

If a tick bites you, talk to your family doctor right away. Follow their advice for treatment. Tick-borne diseases can be treated, especially if caught early.
Article updated May 26, 2023.
Sources: Take precautions to minimize tick exposure, WRHA; About Blacklegged ticks, Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living; Lyme group expects bad tick year in Manitoba, Laura Glowacki, CBC News. All accessed on May 4, 2017.

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