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Lyme disease still a concern, Health Unit cautions

SIMCOE, ON, OCT. 11, 2007 – Unseasonably warm weather has extended the danger of contracting Lyme disease, cautions the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.

“With the warm fall we are having, it is important for people to know that ticks are still active,” explained Healthy Environment Program Coordinator Glen Steen.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by the bite of a Deer Tick, which is orange to brown in colour with a black spot near its head. Ticks were found initially along the northern shore of Lake Erie, particularly Long Point and Turkey Point, but are now spreading to other parts of the province. Ticks prefer wooded areas, marshlands and tall grasslands and can be found on birds, mice, raccoons, deer and other species. Domestic animals such as dogs, cats, horses and cows can also carry the tick if they have been in tick-infested areas.

“With hunting season approaching, people need to continue to take measures to protect themselves from ticks that could be carrying Lyme disease,” Steen said. “To protect yourself from ticks, wear light-coloured clothing, pants and long-sleeved shirts. Tuck your pants into your socks and use repellent containing DEET.”

When returning from tick habitat, check yourself for ticks and remember they can be very small and hard to see. If you find a tick attached to your body and you suspect it to be a Deer Tick, save it and submit it to the Health Unit for identification.

To remove an attached tick, use fine-pointed, needle-nosed tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Gently pull the tick straight out. Do not twist, as that may cause the mouth parts to break off in the skin. Apply antiseptic to the bite area and wash your hands. Do not remove a tick by using a cigarette to burn it, or substances such as lighter fluid or nail polish remover.

If you suspect you have been bitten by a Deer Tick and you do not have the tick, or if you have symptoms of Lyme disease, see your family doctor immediately. The most common symptom is a bulls-eye rash around the bite that is clear in the centre with a red ring around it. The rash usually occurs three to 30 days after the bite, but may not appear at all.

For more information, see the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s website for a Fact Sheet on Lyme Disease or call the Health Unit at 905-318-5367 or 519-426-6170 and ask for a Public Health Inspector.

Media Contact:
Glen Steen, Program Coordinator
Healthy Environment Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3204 or 905-318-6623