Public Health Sudbury & Districts has received laboratory results confirming an adult has tested positive for Lyme disease with investigations indicating the disease was most likely locally acquired in the Manitoulin District.
Although reports of locally acquired Lyme disease remain uncommon, people need to protect themselves when enjoying the outdoors. Blacklegged ticks infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease have been found in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts in past years; however, they are commonly found in rural areas along the north shores of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Lake Superior, and the St. Lawrence River, as well as in the Rainy River area of northwestern Ontario.
“People enjoying the outdoors need to check for ticks immediately after activities like gardening or hiking. This is one of the simplest ways you can protect yourself from Lyme disease,” said Ashley DeRocchis, an environmental support officer with Public Health Sudbury & Districts.
Blacklegged ticks do not jump or fly. They wait on grass and bushes for animals or humans to brush against the vegetation. Ticks vary in size and colour and can be hard to see until they are full of blood.
Avoiding a tick bite in the first place is best. To prevent tick bites:
- Avoid walking in tall grass.
- Make sure yards are kept clear of debris and overgrown vegetation, grass, bushes, and trees.
- Keep wood piles and bird feeders away from homes.
- Wear a long-sleeved, light-coloured shirt, pants, and closed-toe shoes.
- Use insect repellents that are approved by Health Canada and follow the application recommendations on the package.
- Do a tick check.
- Take a shower after outdoor activities to help wash off ticks that have not yet attached themselves to the skin.
If you find a tick attached to a human:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grab the tick close to the skin and gently pull straight up.
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Put the tick in a dry container and bring it to your local public health unit to be sent for identification and testing for Lyme disease.
- Follow up with your health care provider to determine if you need treatment, especially if the tick has been attached for more than 24 hours. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics.
- If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause serious complications to the heart, joints, and nervous system.
Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease may include:
- A characteristic rash around the area of the bite that looks like a red bullseye.
- Fever, headache, muscle and joint pain.
- Fatigue, stiff neck, and swollen glands.
For more information on Lyme disease and ticks, call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200, ext. 464 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200) or visit www.phsd.ca.