Tick at provincial park north of Peterborough tests positive for Lyme disease: health unit

Black-legged ticks are the most common at this time of year in the Peterborough area. AP Photo

The first Lyme disease-positive tick of the season has been identified by Peterborough Public Health.

The health unit says the infected black-legged tick was discovered during recent surveillance work conducted in Petroglyphs Provincial Park, about 55 kilometres north of Peterborough.

Additional surveillance will be conducted this fall. If black-legged ticks are identified from the same location, the health unit will inform Public Health Ontario’s Estimated Risk Areas map.

Read more: More ticks and more Lyme disease in Canada’s future, experts say

Some southern areas of the geographical area serviced by the health unit have been identified as a risk area by Public Health Ontario. The health unit serves Peterborough, Peterborough County, Curve Lake First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation.

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“The National Microbiology Laboratory confirmed that a black-legged tick found in our area has tested positive for Lyme disease,” stated Julie Ingram, the health unit’s manager of environmental health programs. “This serves as a good reminder to be tick smart and take precautions when going into any wooded and grassy areas, especially those with known tick populations.”

Residents are encouraged to monitor themselves for ticks and to use the eTick app to identify the species of tick, since only black-legged ticks carry the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease. Photos can be uploaded to species identification. Real-time mapping of tick submissions is also shown on the website

The health unit notes it will only accept ticks found on humans for identification tests. Ticks found on pets or other animals should be taken to a vet.

Read more: Mosquitoes in Peterborough test positive for West Nile virus, health unit reports

In 2019, residents submitted approximately 280 ticks to Peterborough Public Health for identification and testing. Final analysis of results from submissions later in the year are pending, however, from January to June 2019, of the 23 ticks that were confirmed positive for Lyme disease, five of those came from Peterborough County.

Tips for prevention of ticks include:

  • If you do locate a tick on your body, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible and pull the tick straight out.
  • Avoid areas such as tall grasses and wooded habitats.
  • Wear long, light-coloured clothing and tuck pant legs into socks. 
  • Spray an insect repellent containing DEET on your clothes.
  • Check for ticks when you return from the outdoors, and it’s a good idea to shower afterwards to wash off any ticks that may be crawling on your body.

The signs of Lyme disease can be categorized in three stages. The first sign of a tick bite is a circular rash in the shape of a bull’s-eye. Other additional symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes.

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Visit the health unit’s website for more information, or for more information on tick submission or general inquiries, contact the health unit’s vector-borne disease program at 705-743-1000 ext. 240.

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