With notification of the first human case of Lyme disease in Norfolk County in 2018, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) is reminding the public to take precautions to protect themselves from ticks.
To date, the HNHU has collected 72 deer ticks from areas in Haldimand and Norfolk counties through its active tick surveillance program. Of these 72 deer ticks, 24 tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Adult deer ticks, which are the known transmitters Lyme disease, are most active in the spring and the fall. They are found outdoor areas with woods, shrubs, weeds, and tall grasses.
This fall, HNHU staff are returning to the areas where they previously found deer ticks in the spring. In active tick surveillance, if deer ticks are found in the same location in the spring and the fall, the area is confirmed as a ‘risk area’ and mapped for public and healthcare provider reference. Accuracy is key because this mapping can be used when diagnosing Lyme disease.
The HNHU offers the following tips to avoid ticks:
Stick to the middle of trails when walking through wooded areas. Wear closed-toe shoes, long-sleeved shirts and pants. Pull your socks over your pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs. Wear light-coloured clothes to spot ticks easier.
Use bug spray containing DEET or Icaridin on your skin and clothing. Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks. Do daily “full body” checks for ticks on yourself, your children and your pet.
Remove leaf litter and other ideal living conditions for ticks around your home such as wood piles and cluttered sheds. Place tables, swing sets and play equipment away from wooded areas, shrubs and overgrowth.
The HNHU would also like to remind the public that it will no longer be accepting tick submissions from the public at any of their offices in Simcoe, Caledonia, Dunnville, or Langton for testing. The public is encouraged to continue to bring attached ticks to their appointment with their healthcare provider.
For more information on ticks and Lyme disease including personal protection measures, how to remove and identify a tick visit www.hnhu.org/health-topic/lyme-disease
For the Public Health Ontario map of risk areas, please visit: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/eRepository/Lyme_disease_risk_areas_map.pdf