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Watch out for ticks this season

ticksThe regional health department has started its annual black-legged tick surveillance program so residents can avoid contracting lyme disease this summer.

In the last five years, there have been 38 ticks found in the region. Of those, seven have tested positive for lyme disease.

While the risk of infection is low, people can reduce their chances of contracting lyme disease by taking several precautions when out in brushy or wooded areas, including:

  • Wearing long pants, a long sleeved shirt, socks and closed footwear
  • Tucking your pants into your socks and wearing light-coloured clothing, which makes ticks easier to spot
  • Using an insect repellent that has “DEET” on your clothing and exposed skin
  • Taking a shower and examining your body thoroughly for ticks after each outing
  • Putting a tick and flea collar on your pets and routinely check them for ticks

“Prompt removal of ticks from the skin will help prevent infection, as transmission of the lyme disease causing bacteria usually requires the tick to be attached to the skin for at least 24 hours,” states Ross MacEachern, the health department’s manager for environmental health, in a news release. Ticks removed from skin can be submitted to the Health Department for proper identification and further testing.

Early symptoms of Lyme disease usually occur within one to two weeks after a tick bite, but can be experienced as soon as three days or not happen for as long as a month. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, fatigue and a red rash that looks like a bull’s-eye target. If detected early, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. Anyone who develops these symptoms after being bitten by a tick should see their health care provider.

For more information, please call the Health Department’s Environmental Help Line at 1-888-777-9613, or visit durham.ca/vectorbornediseases.