Peterborough Public Health Identifies First Lyme Disease-Positive Tick of the Season

Written by Communications, July 28, 2020

Residents Advised to Take Precautions and Be Tick Smart

The first Lyme disease-positive tick of the season has been identified by Peterborough Public Health.

“The National Microbiology Laboratory confirmed that a blacklegged tick found in our area has tested positive for Lyme disease,” said Julie Ingram, Manager of Environmental Health programs. “This serves as a good reminder to be “tick smart” and take precautions when going into any wooded and grassy areas, especially those with known tick populations.”

Ingram noted that the infected tick was discovered as part of Peterborough Public Health’s recent active surveillance work conducted in Petroglyphs Provincial Park. Additional surveillance will be conducted this fall. If blacklegged ticks are identified from the same location, it will inform Public Health Ontario’s Estimated Risk Areas map.

Residents are encouraged to monitor themselves for ticks, and to use the eTick app to identify the species of tick, since only blacklegged ticks carry the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease. The eTick app can be downloaded from www.etick.ca and allows anyone with a smart phone to snap a photo of a tick and upload it directly to the website to receive a species identification. You can also submit a photo of the tick online, without downloading the app. Once successfully submitted, the identification results will be available within 48 hours. Real-time mapping of tick submissions is also shown on the website.

If you are unable to use the online service, you may submit a tick for testing to Peterborough Public Health. When bringing a tick to Peterborough Public Health, please be aware that only ticks found on humans will be submitted for identification and testing.  Any ticks found on pets or other animals should be taken to a veterinarian.

What to do if you find a tick:

Ticks can be as small as a sesame seed and their bites are usually painless. If you do locate a tick on your body, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible and pull the tick straight out. Removing the tick within 24 hours is key to preventing Lyme disease infection. The best and quickest way to determine if the tick is the species that carries Lyme disease is to use the eTick app or website.

Lyme disease has gained the attention of health officials because cases in Ontario are increasing.  In 2019, residents submitted approximately 280 ticks to Peterborough Public Health for identification and testing. Final analysis of results from submissions later in the year are pending, however, from January to June 2019, of the twenty-three ticks that were confirmed positive for Lyme disease, five of those came from Peterborough County.

Lyme disease is a potentially serious illness and growing health risk across Ontario.  It is caused by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. While not all blacklegged ticks carry Lyme disease, populations of infected blacklegged ticks are spreading throughout Ontario.  Some southern areas of the geographical area serviced by Peterborough Public Health have been identified as a risk area by Public Health Ontario.

Preventing tick bites:

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid getting bitten by ticks in areas where they live, such as tall grasses and wooded habitats.  Before heading out, wear long, light-coloured clothing and tuck pant legs into socks. Spray an insect repellent containing DEET on your clothes. Check for ticks when you return from the outdoors, and it’s a good idea to shower after to wash off any ticks that may be crawling on your body.

The signs of Lyme disease can be categorized in three stages. However, the first sign is usually a circular rash in the shape of a bull’s eye. Other additional symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes. For more details on precautions and symptoms of Lyme disease, please visit www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca and search for “Lyme disease.”

For more information on tick submission or general inquiries about ticks please contact the Vector Borne Disease Program at Peterborough Public Health at 705-743-1000, ext. 240.

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For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence

Communications Manager

705-743-1000, ext. 391