The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is reminding residents that populations of blacklegged ticks, which can spread Lyme disease to humans, are growing in locations across Cornwall and the five eastern counties. However, the area is also home to other types of ticks.
In the EOHU’s jurisdiction, at least 20% of blacklegged ticks are carrying the Lyme bacteria, which is why the disease is now considered endemic (or well established) in our region.
Lyme disease is a serious illness that can cause the following symptoms, usually within 3 to 30 days after a tick bite:
- Muscle aches and joint pains
- Spasms, numbness or tingling
- Facial paralysis
- Swollen glands
- Rash (although many people never get or see a rash)
The risk of Lyme disease transmission from a tick to a human is very low if the tick is attached for less than 24 hours, however that risk climbs if an infected tick is attached for over 24 hours. “It’s important to contact your healthcare provider if you believe a tick was attached for more than 24 hours or if you develop flu-like symptoms or an expanding rash in the weeks following a tick bite” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the EOHU. “If Lyme infection is not recognized and treated, symptoms can last from months to years and include serious health problems affecting the heart, nervous system or joints.” Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.
Ticks are most active in the spring and summer months, but can be found at any time of the year when the temperature is above freezing, usually in woodlands, tall grasses and bushes. To learn more about the presence of ticks across the five eastern counties and Ontario, a map of estimated risk areas for Lyme disease can be found at www.eohu.ca/lyme.
There are measures you can take to discourage the presence of ticks around your home and to keep ticks off you, your family and your pets. Check out www.eohu.ca/lyme to learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from ticks and Lyme disease.