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Ticks and Lyme Disease

Encountering a tick is as easy as brushing against bushes or long grass in a tick-infested area. Ticks are members of the arachnid family and are unable to jump or fly. They survive by attaching themselves to mammals and birds and feeding on their blood. Ticks thrive in wooded, brushy areas with undergrowth and significant leaf litter that keep the ground damp. Most ticks are about three to five millimeters in length but can expand significantly in size after feeding.  

Found a Tick?

Submit a photo online and get it identified by eTick.

You can download eTicks free mobile application to simplify your submissions available on Google Play or the App Store.

Ticks and Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a potentially serious infectious disease that can result from the bite of an infected blacklegged tick. In 2020, there were 5.7 confirmed cases of Lyme disease per 100,000 people in Ontario and cases have been rising for several years.

Approximately 70% of all cases are reported in June, July and August. This peak in cases during the summer months coincides with both greater participation in outdoor activities and increased presence of ticks in the nymph stage of their lifecycle, when they are about the size of a poppy seed and very difficult to see. 

Various species of ticks can be found in most parts of Ontario, clustering along the north shores of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River. It is possible, however, to find ticks anywhere in Ontario where they may have been transported by migratory birds. Although they are primarily active in spring and summer, ticks can be found any time of year when the temperature is above freezing. 

There are several different tick species in Ontario, but Ixodes scapularis, the blacklegged tick (also known as the deer tick), is of particular concern from a public health perspective. Blacklegged ticks can carry the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi which, if transmitted to humans via a tick bite, may cause Lyme disease. 

For more information about Ticks check out the video below.

Check out the following resources for more information about Ticks:

Blacklegged ticks that may carry Lyme disease live in wooded areas, tall grasses, and bushes. Protect yourself: 

  • Wear light-colored clothing. It makes ticks easier to spot. 
  • Wear closed footwear and socks and a long sleeve shirt tucked into long pants. Tuck your pants into your socks. 
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin on clothes and exposed skin. Always be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions on how to use it. 
  • Check for ticks on your body, paying special attention to the groin area, belly button, armpits, head and behind ears and knees. Use a mirror to check the back of your body or have someone else check for you. Don’t forget to check for ticks on your children and your pets. 
  • Take a shower as soon as you can after being outdoors to wash off any ticks that may be on you. 
  • Kill any ticks that might be on your clothing by putting your clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes before washing them. 

    Lyme Disease: Watch the video below to learn how to reduce ticks around your home. 

HKPR District Health Unit no longer accepts black-legged ticks for testing, but you can still identify ticks by using the free eTick website. To use the site: 

  • Submit a photo of the tick you encounter. 
  • You’ll be notified within 48 hours if the tick is the type that may spread Lyme disease. 
  • You can then determine what additional care you need, including whether to see a health care provider. 

The Ontario Lyme Disease Map: Estimated Risk Areas is updated annually. It provides information to assist public health professionals and clinicians in their management of Lyme disease

NEED further assistance please contact the HKPR District Health Unit’s Environmental Health Department at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006. 

If you catch a tick attached to you do not panic! Not every tick carries a disease. Do not rip the tick off or burn it or smother it with Vaseline, as these actions will not help. Instead, use clean fine tipped-tweezers as available, or a tick pick and firmly grasp the tick as close to the skin as you can get. Gently, pull away from the skin. The goal is to get the entirety of the tick out in one attempt. If this does not happen, attempt to get the remaining tick-bits out of the skin with tweezers.  

Check out the video below for more information on how to remove a tick safely.

If you have pets: 

  • Check your pets’ skin after being outdoors and remove any ticks you find. 
  • Remove a tick from your pet using the same steps that you would follow to remove a tick from yourself. 
  • Ask your veterinarian about options to help keep ticks off your pets. 

Early symptoms of Lyme disease can include a ring-like rash that expands outward from the bite. Other symptoms may be flu-like, including fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue. Find out more about Lyme disease and how to avoid exposure to infected ticks on the Government of Ontario's Lyme disease information page. 

Seek medical attention if:

  • a blacklegged tick is attached for 24+ hours or is enlarged. 
  • you have visited an area where blacklegged ticks may be found and develop symptoms of Lyme disease.  

Do not use a lit match or cigarette, nail polish or nail polish remover, petroleum jelly, liquid soap or kerosene to remove the tick. 

West Nile Virus

What you Need to Know?

Reducing the risk of West Nile Virus transmission starts with preventive measures. Click more information for effective strategies you can adopt.

Check Tick Activity in Your Area?

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This tool provided by Merck® is intended for education purposes only and not to replace HKPR District Health Unit and/or Public Health Ontario public health advice.

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