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Lyme disease info available: health unit

Prompted by a letter petitioning Ontario municipalities to help raise awareness of Lyme disease, Fort Frances Coun. John Albanese, who also chairs the Northwestern Health Unit’s board of health, said they already have made the tick-spread disease a priority.

Town council received a letter from Corunna, Ont. resident Christine Heffer asking it to endorse a petition set forth by Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey to help raise awareness of Lyme disease, as well as a request from the County of Huron asking the same.

“Public health in Ontario, in Canada, is well-aware of Lyme disease,” said Coun. Albanese, adding Bailey’s petition seems to be “politically-driven” and that perhaps Heffer “jumped the gun” in asking for better testing, a wide-scale information program, education for physicians, and treatment options without knowing all the Ministry of Health is doing.

Coun. Albanese noted “Lyme disease is well-looked after” in Ontario, and “we provide all the best protection information throughout the province of Ontario.”

The province provides the following tips regarding Lyme disease:

•Lyme disease can have many symptoms, ranging from ’flu-like symptoms in its early stages or, if left untreated, to more serious symptoms affecting the central nervous system, brain, or even heart.

Learn how to protect yourself, learn what to look for and what to do if you or your child shows signs of Lyme disease.

•If you’re going outdoors, protect yourself. If you are going camping, fishing, or hiking in Lyme disease hot spot areas, you should protect yourself and your children.

Wear light-coloured clothing, try to avoid shrubs or grassy areas (ticks usually are found low to the ground), and wear long sleeves and long pants. For extra protection, tuck your pants into your socks.

Use bug repellent containing DEET

•Know the bug. Black-legged ticks are very small and hard to see. They usually are found low to the ground, on tall grass, or on shrubs.

If you find a tick on yourself, remove with tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. With a steady motion, pull the tick away from your skin gently but firmly.

If you can, save the tick alive in a jar or screw-top bottle and take it to your health-care provider for testing.

When pulling the tick off your skin, avoid crushing its body. Then clean your skin after with soap and water.

•Know the bite. You may not even notice you have been bitten. A rash that looks like a “bull’s-eye” target may appear after the tick bite.

Late manifestations even may occur months to years later.

•Know what to do. If you or your children have been bitten by a tick, visit your health-care provider to see if you should be tested for Lyme disease.

Early treatment with antibiotics is successful in most cases.

•Know the symptoms. A circular rash, referred to as a “bull’s-eye” rash, could be one of the earliest symptoms of an infection.

If you develop a “bull’s-eye” rash, fever, chills, or extreme fatigue, or feel like you have the ’flu, see your health-care provider.

Be sure to tell them if you have been camping, fishing, or have been active outdoors.

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