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LET’S TALK TICKS

-Beware of Ticks That Can Spread Lyme Disease, Health Unit Advises-

Local residents are being encouraged to watch out for blacklegged ticks that can spread Lyme disease.

With blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks) being found in more parts of Ontario, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit advises people to take precautions. While the risk of an infected tick spreading Lyme disease to a person is relatively low, the threat is still there and it is best not to take any chances, says Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit.

“Lyme disease can be very devastating to a person, so you should be watchful for blacklegged ticks when camping, fishing, hiking and being active outdoors,” he says. “The best advice is to get tick smart. Know the bug, know the bite and know what to do.”

Ticks that spread Lyme disease act like hitchhikers. The ticks are tiny and cannot fly, but will settle on tall grasses and bushes until they can attach themselves to a passing person or animal. These ticks will feed on their host’s blood, and in some cases, may transmit Lyme disease to an individual. “Ticks are more likely to transmit infection to a person after being attached for more than 24 hours of feeding,” Ovcharovich notes. “That makes the prompt detection and quick removal of ticks one of the key methods to prevent Lyme disease.”

To prevent ticks from biting, the Health Unit advises local residents to:

• Wear light-coloured clothing, which makes ticks easier to spot and remove before they feed.

• Wear closed footwear and socks and, when possible, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck your pants into your socks, especially if you are walking in long grass.

• Use a tick repellent that contains DEET (follow the manufacturer’s directions for use).

• Protect your pet. Dogs, cats and other pets can carry ticks that spread Lyme disease. Pet owners should put tick and flea collars on pets and from time-to-time check dogs and cats for the presence of ticks. Contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet being exposed to ticks.

• If in a location where blacklegged ticks are known to be present, check your body for ticks at least once a day. Pay special attention to the groin, scalp and armpits. A mirror can be useful to check the back of your body, or ask someone else to check it for you.

• If you find a tick on your body, remove it quickly and properly to prevent infection. This is best done by using finely-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Pull it straight out, gently but firm. Then thoroughly clean the bite site with rubbing alcohol and/or soap and water.

If possible, place the live tick that was attached to the person into a screw-top bottle and take it to your health care provider or Health Unit office. Testing can be done for surveillance purposes to determine if the ticks in this area are the type that can carry Lyme disease.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, tiredness and muscle and joint pains. A good indicator of Lyme disease is a skin rash in the shape of a bull’s eye. Symptoms can occur as soon as three days or as long as a month after a tick bite. If you experience Lyme disease symptoms, seek medical attention.

For more information on Lyme disease, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or click here.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569, or toll-free: 1-866-888-4577.

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