Ticks in Toronto: Tips to avoid Lyme disease this summer
Published Thursday, May 16, 2019 3:52PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, May 16, 2019 7:47PM EDT
Before hitting the trails this long weekend, Toronto Public Health is encouraging residents to be aware of their surroundings and take precautions against ticks.
According to Toronto’s medical officer of health, blacklegged ticks are often found in wooded or bushy areas in the eastern part of the city. These kind of ticks carry bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
"Although we have seen an increase in tick populations in recent years, the overall risk of acquiring Lyme disease in Toronto is still considered low,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa in a statement issued Thursday. “Spending time outdoors is a great way to be active and stay healthy, but it's important for everyone to know how to protect themselves against tick bites and to recognize the early signs or symptoms of Lyme disease."
Toronto Public Health recommends using insect repellant containing DEET or icaridin when outdoors in wooded areas. Residents should also wear long-sleeved shirts or long pants. Light-coloured clothing can make it easier to spot for ticks, Toronto Public Health said.
Dr. Christine Navarro, associate medical officer of health, told CTV News Toronto that residents should check themselves, their pets, and their kids for ticks after returning home from their outdoor excursions.
“If you find a tick on yourself you can use a pair of tweezers, especially a find-tipped pair of tweezers, put it next your body and pull away the tick firmly but gently,” Navaroo said. “If it’s been attached for more than 24 hours, you can see your healthcare provider.”
Symptoms of Lyme disease usually appear within one to two weeks after a tick bite, but could occur within days or as long as a month afterwards. The symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and a circular rash described by Toronto Public Health as a “bull’s eye.”
“Get Tick Smart” signs have been posted in wooded areas where blacklegged tick populations are known to live, the city said.
The Ontario government also issued a news release on Thursday warning residents of the dangers of ticks.
"Lyme disease is preventable," said Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, said in the release. "That is why we are encouraging Ontarians to learn how to be safe and prevent tick bites. These simple precautions are the best defense for you and your family."