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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tick Talk! Tick Populations Rise!

Ontario Lyme Disease Case Rise Brings Health Unit Warning to Take Local Precautions

An ‘uptick’ in cases of Lyme disease in parts of Ontario is a reminder that local residents should be cautious of ticks that can spread the illness, the local Health Unit warns.
The population of blacklegged ticks is spreading into new areas of the province, according to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine VcRidge District Health Unit. The ticks are very 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 the individual.Image Deer tick from Wikipedia

“Lyme disease can be very devastating to a person, so you should be watchful for these ticks when camping, fishing, hiking and being active outdoors,” says Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “The best advice is: know the bug, know the bite, and know what to do.”
Symptoms of Lyme disease can include fever, headache, tiredness and muscle and joint pains. A very good indicator of Lyme disease is a skin rash in the shape of a bull’s eye. These symptoms can occur as soon as three days or as long as a month after a tick bite. Anyone experiencing symptoms of Lyme disease should seek immediate medical treatment. “The earlier Lyme disease is treated, the better it is for the person,” Ovcharovich adds.
To prevent ticks from biting, the Health Unit advises local residents to:
• Wear light-coloured clothing, which makes ticks easier to spot.
• Wear closed footwear and socks, a long sleeved shirt and long pants. Tuck your pants into your socks.
• Use a tick repellent that has DEET, following the manufacturer’s directions.
• If in an area where you might get bitten by ticks, search your body for ticks at least once a day. Pay special attention to
the scalp, groin and armpits.
If you find a tick on your body, use tweezers to remove it. Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Pull it straight out, in a gentle but firm manner. Save the tick alive in a jar or screw-top bottle, if you can, and take it to your health care provider or local Health Unit office for testing to determine if the tick is the type that can carry Lyme disease. If necessary, further testing can then be done to check for Lyme disease.
While Lyme disease is not spread from person-to-person, pets such as dogs and cats can increase an individual’s exposure to it. This can occur if a dog or cat carries ticks that spread Lyme disease into a home or yard, potentially placing people at greater risk of infection. According to Ovcharovich, pet owners should put tick and flea collars on pets and periodically check dogs and cats for the presence of ticks.
For more information on Lyme disease, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or visit www.hkpr.on.ca

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