Toronto Public Health provides Lyme disease prevention tips


With warm weather arriving, Toronto Public Health reminds the public to protect themselves against blacklegged tick bites and Lyme disease. These ticks are the only type of tick in Ontario that can transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

 

“The overall risk of acquiring Lyme disease in Toronto is considered low,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health. “While we encourage everyone to enjoy the nice weather and explore the outdoors, it’s important that everyone is aware of the locations where ticks can be found in the city and know how to prevent Lyme disease.”

 

Ticks can be found in bushy or wooded areas with lots of leaves on the ground or where there are tall grasses. When enjoying outdoor activities in these areas, residents can reduce their risk of getting bitten by a tick by following these tips:

  • Use insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin, which are safe and effective for avoiding tick bites. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.
  • Wear long pants and long sleeves. Light-coloured clothing may make ticks easier to spot.
  • Take a shower to remove ticks before they become attached. Check your full body and head for attached ticks.
  • Remember to also check your children and pets for ticks.
  • If you find a tick on your body, it can be removed with fine-tipped tweezers by pulling the tick away from your skin gently but firmly.

 

Blacklegged ticks are usually not found on lawns, mowed grass, sports fields or paved areas. Toronto Public Health has posted signs where blacklegged ticks have been found in the city in areas including Algonquin Island, and Morningside and Rouge Parks. Ticks found in other parts of Toronto can be submitted to Toronto Public Health for identification and testing, which is useful for tracking locations in addition to those already known.

 

Prompt removal of ticks from the skin will help prevent infection, as transmission of the Lyme disease-causing bacteria usually requires the tick to be attached for at least 24 hours. Early symptoms of Lyme disease usually occur within one to two weeks after a tick bite, but can occur as soon as three days or as long as a month after a bite. Symptoms of Lyme disease can include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, fatigue and a circular rash (also known as a bull’s eye rash).

If you develop any symptoms of Lyme disease within 30 days of removal of the tick and the tick was attached for 24 hours or more, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred and where you most likely acquired the tick.

 

More information is available at http://bit.ly/1T3z54G.