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Protect yourself against Lyme disease, Health Unit cautions

SIMCOE, ON, AUG. 26, 2009 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is cautioning people to protect themselves from Lyme disease following a second positive test for the disease in a deer tick.

The tick was located in Turkey Point Provincial Park. In June, an infected tick was found at Long Point. Both areas are known to have deer tick populations, which can spread the disease to humans through their bites. Submissions to the Health Unit indicate the presence of deer ticks along much of the Norfolk County shoreline. Deer ticks prefer wooded areas and tall grasslands particularly at the edge of woodlands.

The Health Unit recommends the following precautions to protect against Lyme disease:

·Tuck your pant legs into your socks to keep the ticks off your skin.
·Wear light-coloured clothing. This will make it easier to see ticks on you.
·Wear repellent containing DEET on your skin.
·Thoroughly check your entire body after you have been in tick habitat. They can attach anywhere, usually in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits and scalp. Ticks do not wash off in the shower.
·Remove attached ticks immediately by first disinfecting the bite area and then using tweezers to grab the tick as close to your skin as possible. Do not twist the tick upon removal, as this may cause the mouth parts to break off in the skin. Disinfect the area again after the tick is removed.
·Keep ticks found attached to humans and submit them to the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit for testing. Ticks not attached to humans (e.g., on a dog or cat) will not be tested for Lyme disease, but the species type may be identified.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans by a bite from an infected deer tick. In general, an infected deer tick needs to be attached for 24 hours or more before it can transmit the Lyme disease bacterium. The early stages of Lyme disease are usually marked by one or more of the following symptoms: fatigue, chills and fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, and a bulls eye rash (a red circular rash with a clear centre around the tick bite that can be a small as a dime or as large as a dinner plate).
If not treated, the symptoms may disappear and more serious problems with the nervous system, heart and arthritis may occur weeks, months or years after the bite. In some cases, the bite may cause no reaction.
If you suspect you have been bitten by a deer tick and do not have the tick, or if you have symptoms of Lyme disease, see a doctor. If diagnosed early, Lyme Disease can easily be treated with antibiotics.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit continues to work in partnership with provincial park officials to increase public awareness about the risks of Lyme disease. Visitors and staff can submit ticks to the park office and the Health Unit will process the submission for identification. The public may also submit ticks directly to the Health Unit for identification. If the submission is identified as a deer tick and has been attached to a person, it will be sent for Lyme disease testing.

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

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Media Contact:
Kris Lutzi, Senior Public Health Inspector
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3261or 905-318-6623, Ext. 3261
[email protected]