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Health | Ticks and Lyme Disease

Tick bites may be preventable with new Canadian invention


Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 9:01 AM - It was in 2016 when Lisa Ali's son of Mahone Bay, N.S., developed joint pain. The family went back and forth to the hospital multiple times, but received no concrete diagnosis. Medical professionals told the Ali family that swollen knees were common in children and once again sent them home.

"It got to the point where my son wasn't able to walk for a period of time because the joint pain was so bad," Ali Told The Weather Network.

"Eventually we found out that it was Lyme disease, and then about two months after that we found out that my other son had Lyme disease as well."

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Close up photo of adult female deer tick crawling on piece of straw -- Getty Images

Ali wanted to protect her children with a product that was free of chemicals. After some extensive research online, she came up with an all-natural anti-tick repellent and named it AtlanTick.

The formula is comprised of several plant-based ingredients, including water, witch hazel and jojoba oil.

"The idea is you want to hide your scent with a scent they don't like," Ali said. "This is where the lemongrass comes in. So, if you spray yourself with that, that's a scent they're not attracted to and therefore they are much less likely to latch on."

AtlanTick is now being studied by scientists at Acadia University to test the effectiveness of the spray.

Researcher Nicoletta Faraone has created a testing zone at the university and the results have been positive.

"The results are pretty interesting because the AtlanTick body spray repelled about 75, 80 per cent of the tested ticks," Faraone told CBC. "These results were compared to DEET, which recorded 100 per cent of repellency. It's pretty encouraging, because we clearly saw a repellency effect."

Ali is now working to get Health Canada on board. It's expected the product will undergo another two more years of testing before it is approved and available on the market.

It can take three days to one month for symptoms of Lyme Disease to occur. It can be successfully treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms:

  • The disease is a serious illness and symptoms can include fatigue, fever, headaches and skin rash.
  • Due to the minuscule size, bites are mainly painless and can go unnoticed until symptoms set in.
  • Tick bites often resemble a 'bull's eye'; a red bite mark surrounded by rings of red, swollen skin.
  • If left untreated, Lyme disease symptoms could progress to cardiac symptoms such as heart palpitations, arthritic symptoms, extreme fatigue, general weakness and central and peripheral nervous system disorders.

Preventative measures:

  • Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Pull socks over pant legs when walking through tall grass.
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin.
  • Wear light colours so ticks are easily visible.
  • Conduct "full body" tick check daily on yourself, your children and pets.

Spot a tick?

  • Remove tick immediately using fine-tipped tweezers, or tick twisters for pets. 
  • Do not squeeze the body as this can accidentally let Lyme disease bacteria into the body.
  • Do not put anything on the tick or try to burn it as this may also lead to the tick releasing bacteria into the bite area.
  • Clean the bit area with soap and water.

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