The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is helping prevent Lyme disease through a free app.

SMDHU said in a press release on Monday that they are encouraging residents to download the app eTick.ca, to help identify ticks.

The app offers an easy way for people to determine if the tick they’ve found is a black-legged tick.

eTick is a photo-based identification platform that helps identify the species of tick quickly and accurately.

SMDHU notes if a black-legged tick is identified – you should contact your health care provider.

If you are unable to use eTick, your health care provider may submit the tick to the Public Health Ontario Laboratory for identification and subsequent bacterial testing by the National Microbiology Laboratory, however, this process can be lengthy.

Due to COVID-19, the health unit is no longer accepting submissions of ticks.

However, there are a number of ways you can protect yourself from ticks.

The Health Unit suggests light coloured clothing – which makes it easier to spot them, and it recommends tucking pants into socks and shirts into pants.

An insect repellent such as DEET or Icaridin is also recommended.

When you return from being outdoors, you should do a full-body check of yourself, children, and pets – and if you find a tick, remove it immediately.  

You should also shower or bathe within two hours to check private areas and wash away any loose ticks that may be on your body or in your hair. 

If you find a tick attached to the skin, remove it right away.

SMDHU notes that an infected tick has to be attached for more than 24 hours before the bacteria that causes Lyme disease can be transmitted.

They advise using fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and then pull it straight away.

For more information on protecting yourself and your family from ticks and Lyme disease, head here.