Summer means Lyme disease season in Southern Ontario

May 18 2018, 9:29 pm

It’s almost officially summer, but the warm weather has been in Toronto for a while now. And with the rising temperatures, comes the risk of Lyme disease in Ontario.

Toronto Public Health issued a reminder to the public to protect themselves against the blacklegged tick bites, the only type of ticks found in the province that can transmit the bacteria causing the disease.

“Although we have seen an increase in tick populations in recent years, the overall risk of acquiring Lyme disease in Toronto is still considered low,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health.

“Spending time outdoors is a great way to be active and stay healthy, but it’s important for everyone to know how to protect themselves against tick bites and to recognize the early signs or symptoms of Lyme disease.”

Generally, ticks are found in bushy or wooded areas with lots of leaves on the ground or where there are tall grasses, according to the city.

Toronto Public Health

While the general risk for getting bit is low, the City of Toronto is encouraging residents to reduce the risk even further by:

– Using insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin, which are safe and effective for avoiding tick bites
– Wearing long pants and long sleeves. Light-coloured clothing may make ticks easier to spot.
– Taking a shower to remove ticks before they become attached. Check your full body and head for attached ticks.
– Remembering to check your children and pets for ticks.

Blacklegged ticks are usually not found on lawns, mowed grass, sports fields, or paved areas.

Toronto Public Health has posted signs where the breed of ticks have been found in the city. These areas include Algonquin Island, Highland Creek, Morningside Park, and Rouge National Urban Park.

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. The prompt removal 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 infection, 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).

Remember, the risk of Lyme disease is low in Toronto, but it’s recommended to be safe, especially if hiking around the Rouge is part of your regular routine.

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