The day after a hike in the Rouge, Wanda noticed something thread-like poking out of her skin. It was a tiny blacklegged deer tick and her doctor quickly prescribed an antibiotic.

By Wanda Wierzbicki

A few weeks ago while on a hike in the Rouge, I was bitten by a tick. This was the first time in my life that this happened to me so it took me by surprise.

The day after the hike, I noticed an irritation on my hip. When I looked closer, I noticed something thread-like sticking out of my skin. I pulled at the “threads” and luckily managed to get them out and place them on a piece of white paper.

Upon closer inspection the “threads” were really eight black legs! It was a tick and it was still alive and walking around. I put it into a small container, pulled out my magnifying glass and started doing research on the Internet. I was shocked that such a little thing could leave such a big bite mark.

My research told me it was likely a blacklegged deer tick and that I should call the doctor or pharmacist to get antibiotics. My doctor prescribed a one-dose antibiotic and I dropped the tick off at the lab. They later confirmed it was indeed a blacklegged deer tick. I was also given a requisition for a blood test, which I have to do in a few weeks. This blood test will check for Lyme disease.

April through October are peak months for ticks and they are now found in all parts of Ontario. Unless you do not leave your house, you cannot avoid areas where ticks might lurk. You can even be bitten in your own backyard.

The following are some suggestions to prevent tick bites:

  • Wear long pants when hiking – even in hot weather. There are special tick pants/shirts available.
  • Light-coloured pants are better – ticks can be seen on them.
  • Tuck the pants into your socks – otherwise the ticks can walk up the inside of your pants.
  • Consider spraying insect repellant spray on the lower parts of pants and footwear.
  • Check yourself and your clothes often.
  • Remove and wash all clothes after a hike or working in the garden or cutting the lawn.
  • Take a shower and check for ticks on your body. If you see one and it is almost the size of a dime, it has already had its fill of your blood. If its head is buried in your skin, use tweezers to remove it. Make sure you get the entire tick. Check YouTube videos for instructions.
  • If you get bitten, contact your doctor or pharmacist immediately. They will most likely prescribe an antibiotic, even though not all blacklegged ticks carry the virus.

Fast forward three weeks and I was on another hike in the Rouge. The group was noticing ticks on their clothes. Suddenly one of the hikers noticed a tick on his stomach. It looked like a small mole. One of the members of the group had tweezers and the tick was quickly and completely removed. The area was swabbed with antiseptic, and before the hike was over antibiotics were requested, to be picked up later that day.

Unfortunately, ticks are here to stay. We have to learn how to live and deal with them.