The warm summer months are always a welcome refreshment, especially after a long, cold, snow-packed winter. So, as tempting as it is to venture out into the woods for an early morning hike, or relax by the lake as the sun goes down without having to worry about insects, Health Canada has issued a warning hoping to ensure that the public does not forget to be wary of mosquitoes and other bugs.
Per a safety advisory issued by Health Canada, one of the priorities during the typically bug-infested summer months is to remind Canadians to use bug spray and other insect repellent to safely avoid potentially dangerous bug bites and deter a rise in insect-related health issues.
This safety advisory comes after experts from the Public Health Agency of Canada suggested that they are seeing blacklegged ticks that carry Lyme disease expanding their range across the country, resulting in 1,479 cases of Lyme disease across Canada last year.
However, according to the British Columbia Ministry of Health, the number of infected tick populations have plateaued in the last decade in British Columbia, citing that the spread of western blacklegged ticks into B.C. happened much earlier than the blacklegged ticks found in central and eastern Canada.
That’s not to say that the residents of British Columbia can be carefree when it comes to the potential risks of bug bites.
According to the safety advisory, common bug bites can cause numerous health problems, ranging from the relatively mundane itchiness and irritation of a mosquito bite, to potentially serious diseases, like Lyme disease and bacterial illnesses.
Although personal insect repellents can help protect you from mosquito, black fly and tick bites, Health Canada states it’s instrumental to remember that they should only be used as directed and that they are not always the best protection.
As temperatures rise throughout the summer, wearing less clothing is tempting and sometimes required. Even so, the safety advisory suggests that the best protection against potentially dangerous bug bites is ensuring that exposed skin is covered by some sort of clothing as much as possible. As obvious as it may be, preventing bug bites is still the best protection.
Health Canada’s safety advisory also asks the public to only use insect repellents that have been approved by Health Canada. Repellents that are approved will have a Pest Control Product registration number on the product label. Health Canada states that registered repellents have only been proven to work on the insects listed on the label, rather than them acting as a universal insect deterrent.
Per Health Canada, their primary objective in regulating pesticides is to ensure that the health of all Canadians and environmental health is protected. Thus, all pesticides in Canada must undergo a series of rigorous and extensive science-based tests before being regulated for the public.
Health Canada is also advising the public to respect and follow any warnings or cautionary messages on product labels, which includes the number of times any individual should apply the repellent per day, as well as use on children and other potential advisories.
Ultimately, as obvious and straightforward as it may seem, make sure you protect yourself and your family from bug bites this summer.