Ticks that cause Lyme disease found in Toronto
Tuesday, May 10, 2016, 5:48 PM - Toronto Public Health is warning residents to be on the lookout for black-legged ticks, particularly in wooded areas as they can spread Lyme disease.
While the risk of contracting the disease in the city is considered low, officials have begun to put up signs where the arachnids have been found.
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There are several types of ticks found in Toronto, however, only the black-legged ones can transmit the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi that causes Lyme disease.
"This is the time of year where individuals and families start to enjoy time outdoors, so it is important that people know where ticks have been found and how to prevent Lyme disease," Dr. Howard Shapiro, associate medial officer of health and director of Healthy Environments at Toronto Public Health said at a press conference Tuesday.
Morningside Park, Cedar Ridge Park, Rouge Park and Algonquin Island are some of the areas that have been identified in the city as having black-legged ticks. A recent study published by the International Journal of Medical Sciences show the Lyme-carrying arachnids are also present in the Hamilton-Wentworth region of Ontario.
Residents can reduce the risk of being bitten by staying in the centre of marked trails, wearing light-coloured clothing so ticks are easily visible and using insect repellent.
If you spot one, remove it as soon as possible as the small arachnids only need 24 hours to transmit the bacteria.
"When you come home [from a park] check yourself for ticks. You need to do your whole body, including your hair," Shapiro said. "The other thing you can do is shower right away because it takes a while for the ticks to firmly attach themselves."
As part of Toronto's black-legged tick surveillance program, officials demonstrated how the arachnids are collected.
Tick testing underway at Morningside park pic.twitter.com/fUbyftFAX9— Linda Ward (@LindaWardCBC) May 10, 2016
It can take three days to one month for symptoms of Lyme Disease to occur. It can be successfully treated with antibiotics.
- The disease is a serious illness and symptoms can include fatigue, fever, headaches and skin rash.
- Due to the minuscule size, bites are mainly painless and can go unnoticed until symptoms set in.
- Tick bites often resemble a 'bull's eye'; a red bite mark surrounded by rings of red, swollen skin.
- If left untreated, Lyme disease symptoms could progress to cardiac symptoms such as heart palpitations, arthritic symptoms, extreme fatigue, general weakness and central and peripheral nervous system disorders.
Spot a tick?
- Remove tick immediately using fine-tipped tweezers.
- Do not squeeze the body as this can accidentally let Lyme disease bacteria into the body.
- Do not put anything on the tick or try to burn it as this may also lead to the tick releasing bacteria into the bite area.
- Clean the bit area with soap and water.
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