That's a deer tick. It's only about the size of a sesame seed and it might be carrying Lyme Disease, an illness that is becoming more and more common in Southern Ontario. Because Lyme Disease is relatively new to our area, doctors are often slow to diagnose it after a person has been infected.
The best policy is to check yourself, your kids and your dog for ticks after working or playing outside in the garden or in tall grassy or forested areas. Check everywhere, including under arms and in the groin. When you find a tick, remove it carefully with tweezers right next to the skin, so that no part of the tick remains in the body.
The proper technique for tick removal includes the following:
- Use fine tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible.
- Pull backwards gently but firmly, using an even, steady pressure. Do not jerk or twist.
- Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick, since its bodily fluids may contain infection-causing organisms.
- After removing the tick, wash the skin and hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- If any mouth parts of the tick remain in the skin, these should be left alone; they will be expelled on their own. Attempts to remove these parts may result in significant skin trauma.
The tick needs to be attached and feeding for 24 to 48 hours in order to transmit disease, so don't panic if you have to remove a tick, but make sure you do that check and get it before it has a chance to do the damage.
This is the classic "bulls-eye" rash that 80% of people develop if they have been infected with Lyme Disease. The other 20% of people may not get any rash at all. Early symptoms of the disease include feeling awful, debilitating fatigue and joint and muscle pain. Get yourself to a doctor if you suspect you might have Lyme Disease and insist on being taken seriously! The latter stages of the disease don't bear thinking about. You should leave the doctor's office with a script for antibiotics.