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News Release

Health Department reminds the public to take precautions against Lyme Disease

WHITBY, ON August 30, 2017 - Durham Region Health Department is reminding the public to protect themselves against Lyme disease, a serious bacterial illness that is spread by the bite of an infected black-legged tick or “deer” tick. These ticks carry the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which causes Lyme disease.

So far this season, the Health Department has submitted 118 ticks for testing for Lyme disease; 28 were identified as black-legged ticks, with seven testing positive for the Lyme disease bacteria. In addition, the Health Department has received reports of 24 human cases of Lyme disease in Durham Region to date this season. In 2016, there were a total of 24 human cases reported in Durham Region. Signs are posted in areas where black-legged ticks are more commonly found to ensure that the public is aware of these locations and takes precautions to protect against tick bites when visiting these areas.

The Health Department also continues to provide information to the public on ways to protect against tick bites and works with the local health care community on how to diagnose and treat Lyme disease.

The risk of becoming infected with Lyme disease is still considered low. However, people can reduce the risk of tick bites by taking precautions when visiting and enjoying outdoor activities in brushy or wooded areas where ticks are found, 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.
  • Staying in the center of trails when walking and hiking in grassy or wooded areas.
  • Using an insect repellent that has "DEET" on clothing and exposed skin, following the manufacturer’s instructions for application.
  • Taking a shower or bath, and examining your body thoroughly for ticks after each outing.
  • Putting a tick and flea collar on your pets, and routinely check pets for ticks.

“A thorough check of your body and the quick removal of ticks from the skin will help prevent infection, as transmission of Lyme disease 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 may include fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint pains, fatigue and a circular 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/lyme.

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Media inquiries:

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

If this information is required in an accessible format, please call 1-800-841-2729 ext. 3094.

For more information, please contact Health Department.