With the summer season come insects and potentially dangerous infections. Ticks and mosquitoes can carry serious illnesses such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus. In a press release issued on June 22, Quebec's Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) reminded the public of the measures they should take to avoid being bitten.

"With summer just around the corner, and beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic, it remains essential to keep in mind the risks of catching these insect-borne infections during outdoor activities," explained Yves Jalbert, Assistant Director-General of Public Health Protection.

Even though it's possible to be bitten by a tick anywhere in Quebec, the insect's population is concentrated the Eastern Townships, Montérégie, Outaouais, and Centre-du-Québec, according to the government's report.

As of June 15, 2020, the MSSS has already identified 24 cases in the province, including 16 in the Estrie region.

Not all ticks can transmit Lyme disease, but infected specimens can. The same goes for mosquitoes and the West Nile virus.

First, here's what you need to do to avoid tick bites.

  • "preferably walk on trails and avoid tall grass;

  • "use a mosquito repellent on exposed body parts, avoiding the face;

  • "wear a hat, closed shoes, and light-coloured clothing;

  • "tuck your sweater into your pants and your pants into your socks or boots;" and

  • "upon returning from outdoor activity, examine pets, clothing, and equipment, then take a bath or shower and inspect yourself and your children's bodies."

And if a tick still manages to bite the skin, it should be carefully removed as soon as possible.

As for mosquitoes, which are present everywhere in Quebec, here are some precautions to take.

  • "use a DEET or icaridin-based mosquito repellent and wear long, light-coloured clothing;

  • "install mosquito screens on doors and windows in your home and outdoor shelters;"

  • "eliminate all sources of standing water around your home and maintain your pool and filtration system;" and

  • "install screens on rainwater tanks."

These measures do not eliminate all risk of bites, but they can certainly help prevent them.

The Ministry concludes by stating that, "when in doubt about one of these infections, it is always best to call Info-Santé at 811."

This article was originally published in French on Narcity Québec.


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