Ticks & Lyme disease
Black legged ticks, or deer ticks, are the only ticks that carry Lyme disease. They can be found throughout Ontario and are spreading at an accelerated rate because of climate change. They are also spreading by hitching rides on migratory birds and deer. They live in grasses, brushy areas, and woodlands. According to Public Health Ontario, which tracks the spread and infection rate of ticks (click here to view a map showing risk areas), the number of infected blacklegged ticks is rising every year.
Peterborough Public Health offers comprehensive tick information – including what to do if you're bitten by a tick. Click here to read about identifying tick varieties, Lyme disease and more
Another terrific resource: eTick.ca, a citizen-science-based monitoring platform that offers tick identification (simply upload a photo of the tick found on you or your pet; it will be reviewed by experts) and real-time mapping of tick distribution. The site has easy-to-follow instructions for submitting your photos.
Removing ticks: using a good pair of fine-nosed tweezers or a tick-removal tool (as pictured here; Lee Valley has a good one) position the tool as close to the skin as possible and pull with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or turn the tool as you pull; you'll risk leaving part of the tick under the skin. Dispose of the tick by placing it in a sealed plastic bag (if you plan to have it tested for Lyme disease) or flushing it down the toilet. Wash your hands and clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol.
WHAT IS LYME DISEASE?
It's an inflammatory disease caused by the bacteria that are transmitted by ticks. Lyme disease is characterized by headache, fever and chills and can develop into arthritis and neurological and cardiac disorders. In Ontario, the blacklegged or deer tick is the only tick that carries the disease.
* Symptoms to watch for:
• muscle and joint pain
• spasms, numbness, tingling
• facial paralysis
• swollen glands
• spreading skin rash
If you experience any of these symptoms, or are otherwise feeling unwell, in the weeks following a tick bite, see your health care provider.
* Source: Peterborough Public Health
(Right) An embedded tick growing large from its "blood meal."