The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation is telling Albertans what they should do to prevent Lyme disease.
Janet Sperling is a PhD student at the University of Alberta and a board member on the foundation. She shared her personal experience with the disease, after her son fell ill.
“Like a lot of researchers of Lyme disease, I do have a personal connection. My son caught Lyme disease and got very sick. When we went to the doctor to ask what was wrong, Lyme disease was not on the radar,” Sperling told News Talk 770’s Danielle Smith on Monday.
Sperling said Lyme disease can go undetected and that could have consequences down the road when it comes to treatment.
“The biggest risk we have here is that the blood tests are not particularly useful blood tests … You’re probably not going to get the results until the disease is well established and then it becomes really difficult to treat,” she said.
Symptoms of Lyme disease include a skin rash, headache, fever or chills. You could also experience fatigue, spasms or weakness and numbness or tingling, along with swollen lymph nodes.
Sperling said when it comes to ticks, there seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding on which types carry Lyme disease and where you can get bit. She mentioned two types of ticks that each carry different diseases.
LISTEN: Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation on preventing Lyme disease.
“In Alberta, we are used to the idea that you are running into the ticks in the mountains, like the wood tick. The Lyme disease tick is a smaller tick and it’s really like a sneaky little tick because it will get up into your hair line,” she said.
“The larger tick – the wood tick – is the one we run into for example in Kananaskis. That one is not particularly associated with Lyme disease. However, there is no such thing as a good tick. The wood tick is more associated with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever,” she said.
Symptoms of Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever include fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, muscle pain and a rash.
What to do when bitten by a tick
Sperling explained how to go about removing a tick from your scalp – and why it’s important.
“The first thing you want to do is get the tick off and that’s because ticks are not like mosquitos. They draw the blood out of you and then spit all the fluid back into you. So, when they’re spitting the blood back into you, they are sending more and more disease organisms into you,” she said.
“There are two approaches to removing ticks. Most people carry a set of little tweezers, and reach down for the mouth and then slowly pull it out. The second approach is to take a little green piece of plastic, push the skin down, and scoop up the Tick,” she said.
Sperling said keeping close to the centre of a path while hiking is a good way to prevent tick bites. Also, check your body for signs of ticks after spending time outdoors.
Story by David Morales