1. You found a tick. Now what?
It’s important to start by removing the tick. Then, place it in a sealed container so that you can submit it for testing. Visit canada.ca and click “Removing and submitting ticks for testing” to find instructions on what you need to do before contacting your local public health unit. Testing won’t help with your own diagnosis, but it will inform surveillance of where ticks and Lyme disease are spreading.
2. How to get diagnosed
If you have Lyme disease symptoms and have been bitten by a tick or visited an area where Lyme carriers live, your doctor may diagnose you with the illness. There is a blood test that can confirm a Lyme infection, but because it takes four to six weeks for evidence of the bacteria to show up in your blood, physicians won’t wait if there are other signs of the illness.
3. Treating Lyme disease
When you’re diagnosed, a doctor will prescribe the antibiotic doxycycline for 10 to 21 days to kill off the bacteria. “It’s a very effective treatment,” says Mary Southall, a public health nurse on the communicable disease team at KFL&A Public Health in Kingston. But, she says, if you continue to have symptoms after that, follow up with your doctor. If you’ve just been bitten by a tick in an area where Lyme is endemic and believe the carrier has been attached for at least 24 to 36 hours, see your doctor even before you show signs of illness. Your doctor may prescribe 200 milligrams of doxycycline as a preventive measure.