THUNDER BAY, ON ---- May 27, 2010 --- The Thunder Bay District Health Unit has received laboratory confirmation that a deer tick, found on a dog within the city limits, has tested positive for Lyme disease. This is the first positive test for Lyme disease in a tick since the Health Unit started monitoring and testing ticks in 2005.
Although the majority of ticks in the area are harmless wood ticks, deer ticks have the potential to carry and transmit Lyme disease; a serious inflammatory illness which affects the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and joints.
Over the past few years, more and more ticks are being submitted to the Health Unit for identification. This year, with a warmer than average spring, the first tick was submitted to the Health Unit almost one month earlier than in 2009. “The public have been very helpful and we are seeing almost daily tick submissions. With an increase in both the number of ticks submitted and phone calls from the public, it appears we are in for a busy season” says Dr. Henry Kurban, the Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health.
The public health inspectors, along with the Health Unit’s bio-consultant Dr. Ken Deacon, rely on the assistance of the public to monitor the local tick population in the district. Dr. Deacon will identify all ticks found on humans or pets that are submitted by the public. All deer ticks are then sent for laboratory testing. Ticks can be dropped off in a sealed container at the 999 Balmoral Street office or at any of the branch offices in the District. At that time, information will be gathered, including the location where the tick was found.
The best way to prevent coming into contact with Lyme disease is to take steps to reduce the risk of a tick bite:
• Stay clear of areas with tall grass; they are common areas to find ticks.
• Wear light coloured clothing to make it easier to see ticks.
• Cover up by tucking pants into socks and wearing long sleeves.
• Check for ticks before going indoors; don’t forget your pets.
• Use insect repellants with DEET; follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
The best way to remove a tick, including those found on pets, is to use tweezers to grab the head of the tick as close to the skin as possible and then gently but firmly pull the tick straight up and out of the skin. It is important not to squeeze the body of the tick, or try to burn or smother it. The Health Unit’s website (tbdhu.com/id) contains accurate and up-to-date information for the public, including details on how to safely remove a tick and what to do with it once it has been removed.
For more information, including tick submissions, please call a Public Health Inspector at 625-8318 or 1-888-294-6630, ext. 8318.
Chart Showing Transmission Times and Tick Size Changes When Feeding