Toronto woman's tick horror story will make you think twice about your spring walks
As we settle into spring, Ontarians are having some stomach-churning encounters with some resident insects — in particular, the potentially dangerous tick — and trying to warn others to be careful when enjoying outdoor activities.
Hikers are normally the ones to have to worry about ticks and the Lyme disease they may carry, with reports of both on the rise last year and this year.
But, one woman and her dog ended up completely covered in the bugs after a recent walk not in a remote part of the province, but in downtown Toronto.
"Just want people to see how truly bad ticks are this year! This is horrible!" Michelle Sn posted in a South Etobicoke Community Facebook group on Tuesday.
"I pulled the fifth tick off me and at least 20 off my dogs in a matter of days. This is just from being in our yard! Dogs are on preventative and I'm doing all I can to prevent them myself but the effort is proving futile."
The resident added that she "feels like she's living in a nightmare" because of the ticks that have overrun her neighbourhood, property and even come inside her home.
"I now have to check myself and my dogs multiple times daily. Have to check my bed each night and couches, dog beds... it's absolutely horrible," she tells blogTO.
"I think people need to know how bad they really are. I've had five latch onto me and a couple more I've caught crawling on me before they've had a chance to grab on."
As mentioned, Michelle has her dogs on preventive tick treatments and has still had to deal with the parasites, even after walks not out in nature, but just within the city.
"I honestly feel like they are constantly crawling on me," she says.
As the City of Toronto notes on its website, tick populations are indeed growing in Canada, and while the risk in Toronto is believed to be low, residents may want to take protective precautions like wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors, particularly in wooded, busy areas with tall grasses and lots of plant matter on the ground.
The city does have an online map showing where blacklegged ticks are most prevalent in the city, though the data is from 2013 to 2019, as studies were suspended due to the pandemic.
Residents can submit pictures of suspected ticks to tick identification platform eTick to determine whether they are at risk for Lyme disease due to the type.
Keep an eye out during and after walks, and if you discover a tick on yourself or a pet, remove it carefully but firmly as soon as possible with fine-tooth tweezers, store it in a jar and take it into a Toronto Public Health location for identification.
Peak season for adult ticks is March to mid-May, and again from mid-August to November, though they can be active throughout the summer as well.
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