It’s Tick Season — Beware of Hitchhikers

Laurie Carmichael

Lyme disease occurs when humans are bitten by western black-legged or deer ticks infected with a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi.

Symptoms may vary, but the most common include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes, with or without a rash.

Up to seventy or eighty per cent of infected people will develop a distinct red “bull's-eye” rash called erythema migrans. The rash may appear at the site of the bite within thirty days and may grow, feel warm to the touch, and be itchy.

Western black-legged ticks may appear during any season, but usually in spring, summer, and early fall. The Public Health Agency of Canada monitors tick populations and has noticed a spread of the western black-legged tick to new areas. This development is thought to be due to climate change.

The 2022 data identified high-risk areas, which include the following: southern Manitoba, western and southeastern Ontario, southern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and southern British Columbia.

Even if you don’t live in these areas, you are not safe from exposure. If you travel to these areas, ticks can “hitchhike” home on your person or on your four-legged furry friends.

To protect yourself, take precautions in wooded or grassy areas. Wear a hat, a light-coloured long-sleeved shirt, and long pants. Tuck the bottom of your pants into your socks and wear insect repellent.

Before going inside, check yourself, children, and pets. Shower and bathe as soon as possible, checking your body for ticks. Remember those hard-to-see places like your groin, belly button, and behind your ears, too!

If you find a tick, remove it as soon as possible. For information on how to remove a tick, contact Health Link 24-7 by dialing 811, or visit

Wash your clothes in hot water to kill any “unattached ticks.”

If you develop symptoms of Lyme disease, seek medical attention right away from your health-care provider.

If you find a tick on your person, your child, or your furry friend, you can submit a photograph of it to Alberta Submit-a-Tick via the eTick program.

Laurie Carmichael is a retired nurse living in Okotoks, Alberta, with her husband, Daryl. Laurie's article on ticks first appeared in North Okotoks Living Magazine.