What Everyone Gets Wrong About Ticks

These common misconceptions could put your health at risk.

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Tick under magnifying glass
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Myth: Smothering a tick is the best way to remove it

Fact: The only really suitable removal procedure involves tweezers. Attempting to burn or suffocate a tick can actually stress it and cause a greater release of saliva, increasing the risk of disease transmission.

Here’s are the do’s and don’ts of tick removal:

  • Use tweezers to remove a tick, grasping the bug as close to the bite site as possible.
  • Don’t twist as you remove. Pull directly up.
  • Clean the site of the bite with soap and water.
  • Don’t waste any time. If you’re in the wilderness and without tweezers, use your fingers if you must.
  • Submit the tick to your local health authority for testing. [Source: Canada.ca]
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Tick borne disease in Canada - doctor holding tick in tweezers
andriano.cz / Shutterstock.com

Myth: It’s dangerous to leave the head behind when you remove a tick

Fact: If a piece is left in your skin, it’s likely the mouth—ticks don’t have separate heads. Wash your skin with soap and water, and if the mouth doesn’t come out easily, don’t worry—it will work its way out on its own.

Find out how ticks became a major threat to our health.

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Deer tick
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Myth: All ticks carry Lyme disease

Fact: In Canada, blacklegged ticks (also called deer ticks) and western blacklegged ticks (found in British Columbia) are thought to be the only ones that have the bacteria that cause Lyme, and not all of them are carriers.

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Walking through forest in shorts
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Myth: As soon as a carrier bites you, you’ve got Lyme disease

Fact: It takes at least 36 to 48 hours to transmit the bac­teria, so if the tick has been attached for only a few minutes or hours, you won’t develop an infection.

Here are 20 symptoms you should never ignore.

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Tick borne disease in Canada - Lyme disease bullseye rash
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Myth: You need a bull’s eye rash for a diagnosis of Lyme disease

Fact: Up to 80 per cent of patients will get a rash at the site of the bite, but it only sometimes looks like a bull’s eye.

Sadly, Lyme disease isn’t the only thing you have to worry about this summer. Brush up on the various tick borne diseases that are on the rise.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada

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