Information, References, Resources and links to other sites
By Rob Murray
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Hike Nova Scotia.
Prevention is essential and an understanding of the biology of blacklegged Ixodes ticks will help. Ticks can be infectious at any stage but they are more likely to be encountered in the damp cool weather of very early spring or late fall. They can be active down to 4°C. Ticks do not like to be dried out and are unlikely to be found in the center of paths and trails. Birds can also disperse ticks so Canadians can be at increased risk in new areas where they have not been commonly found in the past. There are many pro-active steps that can be taken at the local level by individuals and municipalities.
No ticks are good ticks. Approximately 20% of the blacklegged ticks are vectors for serious diseases like Lyme, Bartonella, Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis while only 1% to 4% of the larger dog ticks carry the Powassan virus. There is no known treatment for this virus and it can render the patient unconscious in as little as 15 minutes. Dressing appropriately with light coloured clothing with long sleeves and pants tucked into socks is key. Even rubber boots can help. Several people have picked up ticks while riding on sit-on mowers.
Tick warnings and trail signage are municipal responsibilities. Dog owners generally know where the hot spots are located.
Most things that people suggest as repellents don’t work on ticks. The best seems to be Natrapel lemon-eucalyptus available from MEC.ca and a few pharmacies. Products containing 30% Deet don’t seem to work as well or last as long. https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5038-081/Insect-Repellent—74ml-Pump?org_text=Natrapel A student at the Mount Allison Tick Lab https://www.lloydticklab.ca has been testing repellents and this recommendation comes from unpublished results.
Permethrin is an insecticide available worldwide for protection against tick bites except in Canada. The commercial product is sold at a 0.5% strength and lasts for up to 6 weeks or 6 washes on clothing and footwear. I have found 0.25% permethrin sprays available from all garden centres, Canadian Tire, Home Hardware and the Home Depot and it should do the same thing. https://www.homedepot.ca/en/home/p.709-ml-home-defense max.1000464192.html A light spray on the clothing and footwear is allowed to dry and should do the trick. It doesn’t work on our skin, as skin oils will neutralize it within 20 minutes. The wet spray can injure cats and it should not be used near fish or pollinators like bees.
Information on the efficacy of permethrin and prevention of Lyme in Nova Scotia: http://versicolor.ca/noticks/
Tick tubes are another use for the permethrin spray. Dryer lint or cotton wool can be sprayed with the permethrin and packed into toilet paper tubes. These are placed around the property, under the building, in woodpiles etc. where the rodents will collect the treated lint for their nests and this will kill the ticks at their source. http://www.practicalprimitive.com/skillofthemonth/ticktubes
Dogs: Dogs can get Lyme disease, but with treatment shake it off and build up resistance over time. People don’t build up resistance and can be re-infected. Veterinarians should be consulted as vaccines and medicines are available. Dogs should be on a leash and kept on the paths or trails in tick season.
Cats: Outdoor cats should wear a collar. Check with your vet because now other medications are available. Cats are resistant to tick borne infections, feed on rodents and can deliver ticks to the owner and homes. The collar recommended by many veterinarians is: http://www.seresto.com/en/seresto-for-cats/ by Bayer.
Prompt, complete removal of ticks (if bitten) is very important. https://canlyme.com/lyme-prevention/tick-removal/ Not all ticks are infectious and generally it takes ticks time to attach and feed before they can infect a person. Tick checks and showering can help reduce the chance of infection.
Avoiding tall wet grass and undergrowth is a good idea. Cutting back the brush along pathways is a good measure to take as shrubs, shade and tall grass encourage ticks. Removing animal attractants like bird feeders will help.
To kill ticks drop them in alcohol. If ticks are on clothing place the clothing in a dryer for 20-30 minutes before washing. –see instructions ‘CanLyme Prevention’.
References and Links to Articles on Prevention:
Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation: https://canlyme.com/lyme-prevention/
NS Lyme disease Prevention and Control: http://novascotia.ca/dhw/CDPC/lyme.asp The Lyme risk map can be printed as a poster. In addition there are links to print pamphlets and an additional poster on the column to the right.
Protection against Lyme disease in Nova Scotia:
Protecting outdoor workers from tick bites and Lyme disease:
Landscape Tricks to Reduce Ticks:
Government of Canada:
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS): http://www.ccohs-.ca/oshanswers/diseases/lyme.html
Tick Management Handbook, Connecticut, pdf. http://www.ct.gov/caes/lib/caes/documents/publications/bulletins/b1010.pdf
Tick Encounter Resource Center, University of Rhode Island/ prevention http://www.tickencounter.org/prevention
and eliminate tick habitat: http://www.tickencounter.org/prevention/identify_and_eliminate_tick_habitat
Signs: Tick Habitat Warning Signs: Amazon.ca AND https://www.campgroundsigns.com/tick-warning-signs
You Tube Videos
CanLyme videos: https://canlyme.com/lyme-videos/
Tick Talk; children’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVQAxUclqgU
How to contact the author:
Rob Murray (DDS ret’d)
Board member Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation (www.CanLyme.com)