Peterborough Public Health is reminding everyone to be extra cautious after finding the first Lyme disease-positive tick of the season.
The blacklegged tick was discovered as part of the health unit’s recent surveillance work in Petroglyphs Provincial Park northeast of Burleigh Falls and confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory, Manager of Environmental Health programs Julie Ingram said.
“This serves as a good reminder to be ‘tick smart’ and take precautions when going into any wooded and grassy areas, especially those with known tick populations,” she stated on Tuesday, July 28.
Risk map available
Public Health Ontario maintains an estimated risk areas map, based on surveillance work. The eTick app available at www.etick.ca is also available to help identify the species of tick – only blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, carry the bacteria that causes Lyme.
While not all blacklegged ticks carry Lyme, populations of infected blacklegged ticks are spreading throughout Ontario and the number of cases continues to rise.
In 2019, residents submitted approximately 280 ticks to Peterborough Public Health for identification and testing. Final analysis of results from submissions later in the year are pending, however, from January to June 2019, of the 23 ticks that were confirmed positive for Lyme, five came from Peterborough County.
The signs of Lyme disease can be categorized in three stages. However, the first sign is usually a circular rash in the shape of a bull’s eye. Other additional symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes.
What to do if you find a tick
- Ticks can be as small as a sesame seed and their bites are usually painless. If you do locate a tick on your body, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible and pull the tick straight out.
- Removing the tick within 24 hours is key to preventing Lyme disease infection.
Preventing tick bites
- The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid getting bitten by ticks in areas where they live, such as tall grasses and wooded habitats.
- Before heading out, wear long, light-coloured clothing and tuck pant legs into socks. Spray an insect repellent containing DEET on your clothes.
- Check for ticks when you return from the outdoors, and it’s a good idea to shower after to wash off any ticks that may be crawling on your body.
Source: Peterborough Public Health