Should You Be Worried About Ticks in Mississauga?
Although there's literally nothing bad about summer (a little heat never hurt anybody), there are a few mild drawbacks associated with warmer weather and one of those drawbacks is the onset of tick season.
Recently, the City of Mississauga took to Twitter to remind residents—especially pet owners—to be vigilant in grassy areas due to the potential presence of ticks (some of which could transmit Lyme disease).
According to the city, black-legged ticks have been spotted more frequently in Ontario and pets can come into contact with them in grassy and wooded areas. For that reason, the city is advising residents to check their pets for ticks during the spring and summer months.
Although you've no doubt heard of ticks, perhaps you aren't entirely sure what they look like. Like all bugs, they're ugly. As far as a scientific definition goes, they're small blood-sucking parasites closely related to spiders (which are also unattractive little beasties). Unlike many spiders, however, they can be as small as the head of a pin and therefore difficult to detect on your pet.
While ticks are tiny, their bodies enlarge as they ingest more blood from their host.
In terms of illness, some ticks—including the aforementioned black-legged tick—carry diseases, including Lyme disease (which can cause serious harm to humans and animals). To be clear, not all black-legged ticks carry the bacteria that causes the disease and the majority of bites will not result in disease.
Since there are serious health risks associated with ticks, the city is advising caution—even though the risk of contracting Lyme disease in Mississauga is extremely low.
According to the city, Peel Public Health data reveals that there is, at this time, no evidence of established populations of black-legged ticks in Mississauga. The city also added that, as of 2016, there were no ticks that tested positive for Lyme disease in Peel.
As of June 2016, there are no confirmed human cases of Lyme disease in Peel.
That said, caution is warranted.
"Health experts report that tick populations are on the rise and you do not have to be in a high-risk area to come into contact with ticks and Lyme disease," the city report reads. "Environmental factors such as warmer climates and migratory birds can also affect tick populations."
But while Mississauga might be safe, there's a good chance you venture beyond its borders with your pet and for that reason, it might be wise to visit Public Health Ontario to find out which areas are considered high-risk for ticks.
If you walk in high-risk areas, make sure to carefully examine your pet's fur for ticks. If you spot one, save it and take it to your veterinarian for testing. If you find a tick on yourself or someone else, you can take it to Peel Public Health for testing.
The best way to protect your pet is to avoid areas known to have high tick populations. Speak to your veterinarian about parasite prevention. In addition, walking your dog on a 6 foot leash in heavily wooded or natural areas will minimize contact with ticks.
If you see a tick on your pet or yourself, you should remove it carefully.
Put on some protective gloves and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible using tweezers. Do not put anything on the tick and do not squeeze it, as this could increase disease risk. Gently but firmly pull it straight out and clean the site with rubbing alcohol and/or soap and water.
Be sure to save the tick to have it tested.
Be careful and enjoy your walks—summer doesn't last long, after all.
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