What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme Disease is an infection caused by the bacteria "Borelia burgdorferi". Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected black-legged tick. These ticks are also known as "deer ticks" or Ixodes Scapularis.
A second variety of tick, the "dog tick", looks similar to a deer tick, however is not implicated in the spread of Lyme Disease.
Both deer ticks and dog ticks can be found in Ontario. Black-legged ticks, the variety that may carry Lyme Disease, are most commonly found in southern and eastern Ontario, however; ticks may be found anywhere.
What are the symptoms of Lyme Disease?
An early symptom of Lyme Disease is a circular "bulls-eye" rash around the bite site. This rash is usually an indication that you have been bitten by a tick. This distinct rash may take a few days or up to several weeks to show up after you have been bit. Other symptoms may include joint pain, fatigue, fever, chills and swollen lymph nodes. If you suspect you’ve been bitten by a tick and have a circular bulls-eye rash or any other symptoms, please consult a health care professional.
How do I identify a tick?
Ticks are very small, about the size of a sesame seed. Ticks do not have wings and cannot fly. They are usually found on the ground or in tall grass but can be carried in to your home on clothing or on pets. Ticks will attach themselves to a host and latch on quite tightly. Common areas where ticks are found on the body include around the ankles, behind the knees, and in the armpits and groin area.
It is difficult to tell the difference between a black-legged tick and a dog tick so ticks are sent away to be identified at a laboratory. If you suspect you have found a tick, please contact Timiskaming Health Unit.
How do I remove a tick?
- With a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- Gently pull the tick straight out, being careful not to twist or crush the tick to ensure no parts are left behind.
- Place the tick in a clear, clean, sealed container such as an empty pill bottle or ziplock bag and contact the Timiskaming Health Unit. The tick will be sent away for identification.
- Clean the area with soap and water and rubbing alcohol.
Ticks should not be burnt or coated in any substance during extraction to ensure a complete removal and to allow for identification.
What can I do to protect myself?
Ticks are commonly picked up while engaging in outdoor activities, especially in areas with a higher tick population such as the north shores of Lake Erie. Some common prevention strategies when travelling to tick infested areas include;
wear light coloured clothing which allows ticks to be spotted easily
wear pants, socks and full shoes when hiking, minimizing the amount of bare skin showing for ticks to latch on to
check your skin when get you get inside for tick bites. Have a friend check the back of your legs or other hard to see places to ensure no ticks are missed. A prompt removal of a tick (with in 36 hours of attachment) greatly reduces your risk or transmitting Lyme Disease
check pets when they come in from outside. Pets cannot transmit Lyme Disease to humans but they may act as a vehicle for ticks to enter your home
apply an insect repellant containing DEET, following the instructions on the manufacturer’s label
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