Ticks and other insects, brought to you by Health Canada and IHSA
Lyme disease is in Canada and prevention is important. Learn how you can reduce your risk.
Lyme disease is spread by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. These ticks are often found in and near areas with trees, shrubs, tall grass or piles of leaves. It can cause serious health issues if untreated, but you can take action to reduce your risk.
Can you identify a blacklegged tick?
Generally, people are infected through the bite of immature ticks called nymphs that are about the size of a poppy seed. Adult ticks (about the size of a sesame seed) can also transmit Lyme disease. Ticks are very small and their bites are usually painless, so you may not know you've been bitten.
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by a tick. Follow these tips when heading outside in areas where ticks can be found:
- Use bug spray with DEET or icaridin (always follow directions and do not mix multiple sprays). See your Supervisor about ordering spray for staff use.
- Wear closed-toe shoes, long sleeves and pants.
- Tuck your shirt into your pants, and your pants into your socks.
- Walk on paths.
- Do a daily full body tick check on yourself, your children, your pets and your gear.
- Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors.
- Put your clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes.
What should you do if you're bitten?
- Use clean tweezers to immediately remove attached ticks:
- Grasp the tick's head as close to your skin as possible.
- Slowly pull it straight out.
- If parts of the tick's mouth break off and remain in your skin, remove them with the tweezers.
- If you can't remove the mouthparts, leave them alone, and let your skin heal.
- Contact your health care provider if you're not feeling well or if you are concerned after being bitten by a tick.
- Keep the tick in a closed container and bring it with you if you go see your health care provider.
- Scott Robinson, health and safety coordinator, has tick removers available for staff. Visit him in his office near the warehouse.
Early detection is key
The identification of Lyme disease in its early stages is very important. In most cases, if caught early, Lyme disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics.
Symptoms typically occur 3 to 30 days after you've been bitten. They can differ from person to person and could include any of the following:
- Rash (sometimes shaped like a bull's eye)
- Aching muscles and joints
- Swollen lymph nodes
More severe symptoms (experienced weeks to months after a tick bite, if untreated) could include but are not limited to:
- Severe headaches
- New skin rashes
- Facial paralysis (such as Bell's palsy)
- Irregular heart beat
- Joint pain
- Nervous system disorders (such as dizziness, mental confusion or inability to think clearly, and memory loss, nerve pain, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet)
Contact your health care provider if you're not feeling well or are concerned after being bitten by a tick.
West Nile virus is most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes. Most infected people have no symptoms. But others can experience feverish illness and possibly inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or the lining around the brain (meningitis), both very serious conditions. Minimize mosquitoes by minimizing mosquito breeding areas like standing water. Preventing bites using clothing and repellents is also important.
In rare cases, a severe allergic reaction can occur after being stung. Employers should be notified if a worker has allergies to insect stings. Co-workers should be trained in emergency first aid, be aware of the signs of a severe reaction, and know how to use the bee sting kit (self-injectable epinephrine). The best way to prevent stings is to avoid insects. Do not wear perfumes, colognes, scented soaps, as they contain fragrances that are attractive. Note that insect repellent does not affect these stinging insects.
Read more tips about other insects provided by IHSA - Kingston Regional Labour Management Health and Safety Committee and more about Lyme disease from Health Canada.
Harmful Plants, brought to you by Parks Canada.
Giant Hogweed and Wild Parsnip
Giant Hogweed and Wild Parsnip are invasive species that are increasingly common in eastern Ontario and disturbing them can result in significant health effects. Toxins in the plant's sap are photosensitive and can cause skin to react severely when exposed to sunlight and sap in the eyes can cause temporary blindness. If you see this plant or suspect you have seen it do not touch it.
How to identify Giant Hogweed:
Giant hogweed may be found growing along roadsides, ditches and streams or in old fields and open woodlands.
- Can reach a height of 2.5-5 metres
- Large white, umbrella shaped flower clusters 30-90 cm across
- Prominent purple blotches and coarse bristly hairs on the stem
How to identify Wild Parsnip:
Wild Parsnip is commonly seen along the roadside and in open fields.
- Grows to 1-2.5 metres
- Yellowish-green flower clusters 10-20 cm across
- Smooth green stem with few hairs
Poison ivy is commonly found in the area, it is found in patches growing low to the ground or as a climbing vine. Sap from any part of the plant can cause a severe, itchy and blistering rash. The severity of the rash depend the persons sensitivity and the amount of sap they are exposed. If poison ivy is burned and the smoke is inhaled or if the plant is accidentally eaten, the rash can occur internally causing extreme pain, breathing problems and organ damage. Pets will not get a rash but can transfer the sap to humans from their fur.
How to identify poison ivy:
- Poison ivy is commonly found along trails, woods and roadsides.
- Three pointed leaflets – the middle leaflet has a longer stalk than the other two.
- Edges can be smooth or toothed.
- Leaves vary in size from 8-55 mm in length.
- Leaves are reddish in the spring, green in the summer and various shades of yellow, orange and red in the fall.
If you suspect you have come into contact with poison ivy wash the area with cold water and soap, this may decrease your chances of getting a rash and prevent it from spreading. Seek medical attention as necessary. Read more tips about poisonous plantsprovided by IHSA - Kingston Regional Labour Management Health and Safety Committee.
Sun safety basics, brought to you by Health Canada
It is important to protect against UV rays all year round, not just in the summer.
- Reflections off snow, water, sand and concrete can increase the effect of UV rays. You need to protect yourself on cloudy days, when you're swimming, and even while skiing.
- Children learn best by example. Model sun-protective behaviour yourself.
- In extreme heat, some medications may increase your health risk and/or make your skin more sensitive to UV rays. If you are taking medication, ask your health care provider if it increases your risk, and follow their recommendations.
- Tanning equipment will damage your skin and should be avoided.
- Sunless tanning products like bronzers are an alternative to tanning and come in different forms (sprays, lotions, towelettes). But while these products may give your skin a golden colour, they do not offer any UV protection. You still need to practice sun safety when using these products.
Did you know?
In extreme heat, some medications may increase your health risk and/or make your skin more sensitive to UV rays. Talk to your health care provider if you have any questions about your medication.
Sun safety tips
You can protect your family and still have fun under the sun.
- Cover up. When the UV Index is 3 or higher, protect your skin as much as possible. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat made from breathable fabric. When you buy sunglasses, make sure they provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Limit your time in the sun. Keep out of the sun and heat between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The UV index in Canada can be 3 or higher during those times. When your shadow is shorter than you, the sun is very strong. Look for places with lots of shade, like a park with big trees, partial roofs, awnings, umbrellas or gazebo tents. Always take an umbrella to the beach.
- Use the UV Index forecast. Tune in to local radio and TV stations or check online for the UV index forecast in your area. When the UV index is 3 or higher, wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen, even when it's cloudy.
- Use sunscreen. Put sunscreen on when the UV index is 3 or higher. Use sunscreen labelled "broad spectrum" and "water resistant" with an SPF of at least 30.
- Drink plenty of cool liquids (especially water) before you feel thirsty. If sunny days are also hot and humid, stay cool and hydrated to avoid heat illness. Dehydration (not having enough fluids in your body) is dangerous, and thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration.
- Avoid using tanning equipment. There is no such thing as a 'healthy' tan. Using tanning equipment damages your skin and increases your risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Refillable water bottles are available for staff from the warehouse. Make it a habit to fill your bottle before you go out into the field in the morning and after lunch. Visit http://www.bluew.org/ and search 'Kingston' for locations around the city that offer free tap water if you need to fill-up while out. Read more tips on heat stress and sun safety.