Health inspector Wanda Tonus said about a dozen ticks have already been turned into Peterborough Public Health to be tested for Lyme Disease.
“If it’s a black-legged tick, then it gets sent on further to Winnipeg to the microbiology lab, where it gets tested for Lyme Disease,” she said.
She said last year they saw record numbers, with more than 300 ticks were submitted. Of those, three came back positive, meaning they could have transmitted the disease.
So should we be concerned?
Entomologist David Beresford said while we have seen an increase in the number of ticks in the region, the risk of contracting Lyme remains quite low.
“The odds of any individual getting bit by a Lyme tick and actually having the Lyme (disease) in that tick are very low for this area,” he said.
Beresford said that the risk does increase closer to Lake Ontario.
Currently, Peterborough remains on the borderline of the tick population.
He said a number of factors have contributed to that borderline pushing into the region.
“There are a lot more small mammals around, more woodland areas and the temperatures are getting warmer, so it is all a perfect storm for ticks,” he said.
Officials said prevention and awareness are important to protect yourself. They suggested wearing light coloured long-sleeved shirts and long pants and to spray a repellent containing deet around your wrists and ankles.
They also suggested checking for ticks when you come in from outside. Recent studies show it takes about 24 hours of an infected tick being embedded to transmit Lyme Disease.
“Watch for signs and symptoms. The majority of people do get a bulls-eye rash in the location of the bite. Also, some signs and symptoms include headache, chills, joint pain,” Tonus said.
As for Beresford, he said while this is the new reality, we shouldn’t allow ticks to deter us from enjoying the outdoors.
“I expect the tick will be an ongoing problem. We will learn how to live with it, the same way everyone has learned to live with mosquitoes now,” he said.
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