First Lyme Disease-Positive Tick of the Season

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The first Lyme disease-positive tick of the season was identified by Peterborough Public Health early this month.  Ticks can be as small as a sesame seed and their bites are usually painless, so this serves as a good reminder to be on the lookout for ticks and to bring in any ticks you find on people to Peterborough Public Health for identification.

The location of the infected tick is not known, but it is believed to have come from either southern Peterborough County or northern Northumberland County. Peterborough Public Health encourages residents to submit ticks that have been found on humans.  Those found on pets or other animals should be taken to a veterinarian.

If you find 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. Save the tick in an empty screw-top bottle or zipper-closed bag and take it to Peterborough Public Health located at 185 King St., Peterborough.

Lyme disease is gaining the attention of health officials because cases in Ontario are increasing. Lyme disease is a potentially serious illness and growing health risk across Ontario.  The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid getting bitten by ticks in areas where they live, such as tall grasses and wooded habitats. Before heading out, 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 after to wash off any ticks that may be crawling on your body.

The signs of Lyme disease can be categorized in three stages. However, the first sign is usually 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.

Animals are suffering from the pest as well.  Staff at Peterborough West Animal Hospital has noticed an increase in ticks on their pet clientele this year. As Dr. Scott Sargent explains, the cooler weather has allowed the insect to remain more active than usual, as heat tends to drive ticks into hiding.   They recommend that any animal that has had a tick removed be tested for Lyme disease after the incubation period which runs from six to seven weeks.  Of course prevention is the best approach, and for animals at least, there are many prevention treatment options available. KG

For more details on Lyme disease, visit www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca .

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