Tick bites and Lyme disease

WorkSafeNB urges workers to protect themselves from Lyme disease, as the number of infected ticks is rising in the province. 

Lyme disease is a bacterial illness spread by bites from infected ticks. These ticks are found in temperate, grassy, and wooded areas. They typically cling to small bushes or tall grasses and are usually found near the ground. They wait for an animal or person to pass by, then attach to the skin to feed. Tick bites are usually painless, so many people don't realize they've been bitten. 

Lyme disease is easily treatable with antibiotics when diagnosed early. However, if treatment is delayed, Lyme disease can result in serious complications such as nerve damage, heart palpitations, neurological disorders, and arthritis. 

Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease vary from person to person and may appear anywhere between three to 30 days after the bite. They often include: 

  • Fatigue
  • Fever or chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Skin rashes, such as "bull's eye" rash (not in all cases)

Recommended preventive actions
For those working outside it’s crucial to take extra precautions in the summer. Be particularly mindful if you spend time in areas with tall grass, brush, or forests. 

  • Wear light coloured, long-sleeved shirts and long pants. 
  • Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks to prevent ticks from reaching your skin.
  • Use an approved tick repellant containing DEET, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Inspect clothing and skin daily, paying special attention to the armpits, back of knees, head, nape of the neck, and groin. Removing the tick within 24-36 hours usually prevents infection.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease and contact a doctor immediately if you have any symptoms that resemble Lyme disease.

If you discover a tick bite, follow these steps to remove it properly:  

  • Use fine-point tweezers. 
  • Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible, near its head.
  • Slowly pull it out straight, avoiding twisting or turning to prevent mouth parts from breaking off in the skin.
  • Do not prick, crush or burn the tick, as it may release infected fluids or tissue.
  • Wash your hands and disinfect the tweezers and bite site.
  • Contact your doctor if you suspect you’ve been bitten.
  • If a bull’s-eye-shaped rash appears, take a dated photo.
  • Try to collect the tick. Put it into a small bag or pill container with a damp piece of paper towel to keep it alive or from drying up. Bring it to your medical appointment as it may help the doctor.


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