May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Everyone is encouraged to enjoy the outdoors safely by learning to avoid the blacklegged tick bites that can cause the disease. Blacklegged ticks have been found throughout Nova Scotia so it is important to be aware and to take some simple precautions. There are several ways to prevent or reduce contact with ticks when in areas with long grass, shrubs or woods: wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks so ticks are more visible, and enclosed shoes pull socks up over pant legs and tuck in shirts spray clothing and exposed skin with an insect repellant containing DEET or Icaridin check clothing and exposed skin for ticks after working or playing outside and remove any ticks attached to the skin when possible, take a bath or shower within two hours of coming indoors; this makes it easier to find ticks and washes away loose ones keep grass well cut to minimize suitable habitat for ticks on your property Tick checks also help prevent Lyme disease. Removing ticks as soon as possible can prevent or reduce the risk of infection. Blacklegged ticks can only transmit the bacterial infection after they have been attached to the skin for at least 24 hours. Infected blacklegged ticks can spread a bacterial infection through bites. Lyme disease is best treated early with antibiotics. The earliest and most common symptom of Lyme disease is a bull’s-eye rash at the site of the bite, although the rash is not always in this shape. Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, muscle aches and headaches. Anyone who has been in areas with long grass, shrubs or woods and has these symptoms should seek prompt medical attention. For more information, visit http://novascotia.ca/dhw/CDPC/lyme.asp .