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News Release

Health Department begins surveillance program for black-legged ticks

WHITBY, ON May 19, 2016 - Durham Region Health Department has started its black-legged tick surveillance program for 2016. Black-legged ticks can carry the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi that can cause Lyme disease, which can be spread to humans through the bite of an infected tick.

The Health Department has been “drag sampling” for black-legged ticks since 2010, and has collected and identified 38 black-legged ticks in the Region in the past five years. The process of “drag sampling” involves dragging a piece of white flannel cloth over and around vegetation where ticks may be present. A total of seven of the 38 black-legged ticks collected since 2010 have tested positive for the Lyme disease bacteria.

Although the risk of becoming infected with Lyme disease is low, people can reduce the risk by taking precautions when visiting and enjoying outdoor activities in brushy or wooded areas where ticks are found.

Precautions include:

  • 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,” explained Ross MacEachern, Manager, Environmental Health with the Health Department. 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 on Lyme disease, please call the Health Department’s Environmental Help Line at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613, or visit durham.ca/vectorbornediseases.

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Media inquiries:

The Regional Municipality of Durham:
Glendene Collins - Health Department, 905-668-7711 ext. 2999 or glendene.collins@durham.ca

If this information is required in an accessible format, please contact the Accessibility Co-ordinator at 1-800-372-1102 extension 2009.

For more information, please contact Health Department.