Ontario residents are reminded to protect themselves from tick bites, especially when participating in outdoor activities during the warm summer months.
Black-legged ticks settle on grass and bushes until they attach themselves to a person or animal.
Ticks can infect humans with Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
The most effective way to prevent Lyme disease is to protect yourself and your family from a tick bite by:
- staying on marked trails, where possible;
- wearing long sleeves, pants, socks, and closed shoes;
- tucking pants into socks and wearing light-coloured clothing to make ticks more visible;
- using insect repellent with DEET or Icaridin on clothes and exposed skin; and
- checking your body thoroughly for ticks after being outdoors (prompt removal of ticks can help prevent infection).
Lyme disease is expanding to many areas of Ontario so it's important for people to be careful and keep an eye out for ticks when in areas with forests, tall grass, weeds, or shrubs.
If you find a tick attached to your skin, remove it properly and get it tested.
To do so, use a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers to remove it carefully—grasping the tick as close to your skin as possible.
Pull it straight out gently but firmly, without squeezing, and make sure the entire tick has been removed.
Then place it in a screw-top bottle and take it to your doctor or local public health unit, which can help to track where Lyme disease is in the province.
Consult a health-care professional as early as possible if you have been—or believe you have been—bitten by a tick.
Protecting people from Lyme disease is part of Ontario's 10-Step Education and Awareness Plan, Combating Lyme Disease Through Collaborative Action.
“Lyme disease is a serious illness that can have long-term consequences if left untreated,” noted Health and Long-Term Care minister Dr. Eric Hoskins.
“I encourage everyone spending time outdoors this summer or at a cottage, where there could be ticks and a risk of Lyme disease, to follow these simple steps to protect themselves and their families from tick bites,” he added.
“Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics,” said Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“But if left untreated, symptoms can last years and include recurring arthritis and neurological problems, numbness, paralysis and, in very rare cases, death,” he warned.
“I encourage everyone to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families during outdoor activity.”
Roughly 370 cases of Lyme disease were reported in Ontario last year.
While the greatest risk of getting Lyme disease is during the spring and summer months, ticks also might be active in some areas in winter, particularly if it is mild with little snow.
Risk areas for Lyme disease are identified by Public Health Ontario in collaboration with public health units.
The most current map of Lyme disease risk areas is available on Public Health Ontario's website.