A black-legged tick collected in Saugeen Shores has tested positive for the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease. Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected black-legged tick. Ticks are most often found in forests, wooded areas, shrubs, tall grass and leaf piles.
The risk of Lyme disease increases the longer the tick has been attached (e.g., more than 24 hours). In 2019, there have been three confirmed cases of Lyme disease in humans in Grey and Bruce Counties, one of which was locally acquired.
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by a tick. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends the following tips when heading outside to areas where ticks can be found:
· Use bug spray with DEET or icaridine (always follow directions).
· Wear closed-toe shoes, long sleeves and pants.
· Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks.
· Walk on paths.
· Do a daily full body tick check on yourself, your children, your pets and your gear.
· Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors.
· Put your clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes.
If you find a tick on yourself or a family member, immediately remove it with a pair of fine-tip tweezers. Ticks can be submitted to health care providers or the Grey Bruce Health Unit for identification. Ticks identified as black-legged will be tested for B. burgdorferi.
Please speak to your health care provider if you have been bitten by a tick and are concerned about your health. Early detection of Lyme disease is very important. If caught early, Lyme disease can be treated effectively with antibiotics. Symptoms may occur 3 to 30 days after you’ve been bitten, including: rash (sometimes shaped like a bull’s eye at the site of recent tick bite), fever, chills, headache, fatigue, and muscle pain. If untreated, in weeks or months after a bite, more severe symptoms could develop, including: severe headaches, facial paralysis, joint paint, and nervous system disorders (e.g., dizziness, mental confusion, nerve pain, etc.).
If you find a tick on your dog or cat and are concerned, please consult with your veterinarian. Regular tick checks and prompt removal are also important for pets.