Ticks are little critters that run wild in spring, especially in dry areas. Their bites can bring about serious long term health problems. Many of Canada’s top climbers have had tick-related illnesses in the past.
The most common is illness is called Lyme Disease, which is a debilitating illness that causes extreme fatigue and worse.
In Canada, we have approximately 40 species of ticks, but only a few can transmit Lyme Disease, such as the black-legged or deer tick. Ticks are small arachnids that live by feeding on the blood of animals.
Nearly all of Canada’s crags have ticks at some time during the year, some crags have more than others. In Skaha, it is common to have five to 1o ticks on you by the end of the day.
Their effect on human health is not well understood or tested in Canada. Sometimes the person who has been bit has a headache, nausea or fatigue for one to five days, sometimes a few weeks, sometimes a few months.
People infected are commonly misdiagnosed with other illnesses, and, when a proper diagnosis is made, it’s often difficult to verify because accurate testing isn’t available.
There is no universally accepted test for Lyme Disease and early treatment is critical. It is difficult to diagnose because symptoms vary from person to person. There are over 100 known symptoms of Lyme Disease.
Common symptoms of Lyme Disease include: Developing a rash sometimes shaped like a bull’s eye mark. Initial flu-like symptoms can be fever, headache, nausea, jaw pain, light sensitivity, red eyes, muscle aches and neck stiffness. Some Lyme victims experience immediate symptoms after infection, others may have none for many months.
Tick checks should be part of every Canadian climber’s routine in spring. After a day of climbing or at the crag, always be on the lookout for them crawling around on you or your partners.
After a day climbing, sure to strip down and check, especially the back of the head, armpits and other warm areas. Shake your clothes out because they love hiding in packs and on jackets that have been laying on the ground. Also check your pets, ticks love getting rides to your house on dogs.
While many people who play outdoors carry bear spray, few check for ticks and ticks are far more common. For safe tick removal, visit the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation and for more information on ticks visit here.