The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) will be in both Haldimand and Norfolk counties dragging for deer ticks throughout May and June. The public may see the HNHU staff, dressed in white coveralls, out in the field.

Active tick surveillance consists of collecting deer ticks, the main carrier of Lyme disease, in their natural habitat. Collection consists of dragging a large white sheet along the ground in areas where ticks are known to frequent.

Locations where this will occur are determined based on past surveillance results from ticks submitted by the public and agreements have been made with the property owners to allow the HNHU to drag for ticks on their property.

The results will be mapped and those results will be made public. Active surveillance will help the HNHU fill in some of the missing data about how these ticks have spread locally.

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.

It is important to remember that deer ticks may also be found outside of an estimated risk area and that not all deer ticks carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

The HNHU would like to remind the public that avoiding ticks is the best way to prevent Lyme disease.

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 Picaridin 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. Consult a vet about tick-preventative treatments for your pet(s).

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.

For more information on ticks and Lyme disease including personal protection measures, how to remove and identify a tick visit https://hnhu.org/health-topic/lyme-disease/

For the Public Health Ontario map of risk areas, please visit http://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/eRepository/Lyme_disease_risk_areas_map.pdf