May 17, 2016 – The Peterborough County-City Health is asking local residents to be aware of Lyme disease and how to prevent it.
Lyme disease is a potentially serious illness and growing health threat across Ontario. It is the most common disease spread by ticks in Canada, caused by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. While not all blacklegged ticks carry Lyme disease, populations of infected blacklegged ticks are spreading due to climate change. This means the risk of contracting Lyme disease is on the rise across Canada.
“Locally we are closely monitoring for evidence of infected ticks in our area, so we encourage residents to check for ticks on their bodies and bring them to the third floor of the Health Unit for identification,” explained Atul Jain, Manager of Environmental Health Programs. “Ticks can be as small as a sesame seed and their bites are usually painless, so it’s important to be on the lookout for ticks and the symptoms of Lyme disease.”
Jain explained that if you do locate a tick on your body, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible and pull the tick straight out. Save the tick in an empty screw-top bottle or zipper-closed bag and take it to the Peterborough County-City Health Unit located at 185 King St., Peterborough. The tick will then be sent away to a public health laboratory for identification.
Lyme is gaining the attention of health officials because of an increase in Lyme disease cases acquired within Ontario. Public Health Ontario reported 220 confirmed and probable human cases of Lyme disease in 2014. With the majority of occurring occurred from May to October, with June, July and August accounting for more than two-thirds of cases.
The signs of Lyme disease can be categorized in three stages. However, the first sign is usually a circular rash in the shape of a bull’s eye. Other additional symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes. For more details on precautions and symptoms of Lyme disease, please visit www.pcchu.ca click on “My Home & Environment” and go to “Lyme Disease.”
What to do if you find a tick:
When bringing a tick to the Health Unit, please be aware that only ticks found on humans will be submitted for identification and testing. Any ticks found on pets or other animals should be taken to a veterinarian. Once a tick has been removed from a person’s body, we ask that you place the tick in sealed container or Ziploc bag and bring it into the Health Unit as soon as you can.
When submitting a tick you will need to provide the following information:
- Full name (including middle initial) and date of birth of the person to whom the tick was attached;
- Location on the body where the tick was found;
- Approximate length of time the tick was attached;
- Where the tick was acquired, along with recent travel history;
- Record of any symptoms; and
- Healthcare provider’s name and city of practice.
A tick can be submitted to the Health Unit Monday to Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For more information on tick submission or general inquires about ticks please contact the Vector Borne Disease Program at the Health Unit at 705-743-1000, ext. 240.