Whether you are walking in the forest, in the tall grass, a pile of dead leaves, in the woods or even in a garden, it can be there, in ambush waiting for a human or an animal to rub up against it to literally cling to his clothes or hair to suck his blood. Very difficult to detect because generally living near the ground, the tick, whose adult size varies between 1 and 3 millimeters, can do a lot of damage to its victim if it is a carrier of Lyme disease.
Increasingly present in Monteregie, Estrie, Mauricie but also in the northeastern United States and southeastern Ontario, the tick comes in a dozen varieties in Quebec and some 900 species worldwide. In just six years, that is to say between 2014 and 2019, the number of Quebecers infected with Lyme disease has increased from 125 to 500.
Fortunately, only one of them can potentially transmit Lyme disease: the black-legged tick, or Ixodes scapularis in Latin. A member of the hard tick family, the only ones present in Quebec, this tick is a parasitic mite of vertebrate animals. It imperatively needs, in order to live, survive, develop and reproduce, to take their blood by first clinging to their body.
At each stage of development, therefore. The tick must attach itself to a human or animal organism – notably dogs, cats, squirrels, chipmunks. White mice, and deer mice – for a period varying between three and seven days. This is when it can contaminate its “prey”. To go from larva to nymph and from nymph to adult. The tick will triple in size before returning to the ground, gorged with blood. To gain strength and grow for a period varying from a few weeks to a few months between each gestation.
During its life cycle. The tick has six legs in the larval state and eight when it changes into a nymph. When it reaches adulthood. It will look for an ultimate host to cling to pump the blood. That will allow it to reproduce and die. Mainly active if the outside temperature oscillates between 4 and 25 Celsius. The larva, when the female’s thousands of eggs have just hatched, is at its zenith in May. The nymph and the adult, for their part, take over during the summer and the fall. It is during these periods that the risk of becoming infected is most present.
When it clings to a bird or small animal to take its blood. The black-legged tick can indeed carry the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the source of Lyme disease. In general, black-legged embedded fully ticks on dogs do not cause serious problems to human health. When infected by a tick, people can minimize the risks by removing it from their skin. In the first 24 hours, before consulting a doctor.
If a redness of more or less 5 centimeters appears on the skin soon after a bite. And roughly takes the shape of the planet Saturn, the case is generally not very serious. This is what happens in 60-80% of bitten people. Symptoms range from fever to fatigue, headache to stiff neck to muscle aches. After a few days, the symptoms disappear naturally.
When the tick remains attached to the human body for more than 24 hours. The risk of contamination may increase while the symptoms will be slower to appear. Serious cardiac, neurological, ocular, neuromuscular and arthritic problems could occur in the medium and long term. To prevent, in an effective way, a possible contagion by the blood. It is imperative to examine its body with the return of a contact with nature.
If a tick is found to be embedded in your skin. Tick tweezers or a tick remover for cats should be carefully used to remove it completely. A consultation with the doctor will finally make it possible to evaluate whether taking. An antibiotic of the PPE type (post-exposure prophylaxis) is necessary. It is finally recommended, in any case, to isolate the tick to show it to the attending physician.