The Government of Ontario is encouraging people across the province to take precautions when spending time outside to prevent tick bites and Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is a serious infection that comes from being bitten by an infected blacklegged tick. You can find an infected tick almost anywhere in Ontario, which is why the government is reminding Ontarians to protect themselves against tick bites ahead of this May long weekend.
“Now that warmer weather is finally here, more Ontarians will be enjoying time outside,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “But warmer weather also means ticks are out and active. We want to make sure the people of Ontario understand how to protect themselves and their loved ones from Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, so they can enjoy the outdoors safely.”
You may be at risk of tick bites if you spend time in wooded areas or areas with tall grasses and bushes (including city gardens and parks). You can protect yourself by:
Wearing light-coloured long-sleeved shirts, closed-toed shoes, and long pants tucked into your socks.
Using an insect repellent with “DEET” or “icaridin” in it, which is effective and can be used safely when applied as directed.
Checking yourself, your children, and your pets after being outdoors and removing any ticks promptly.
“Lyme disease is preventable,” said Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. “That is why we are encouraging Ontarians to learn how to be safe and prevent tick bites. These simple precautions are the best defense for you and your family.”
Ticks are small and hard to see. If you do find a tick, remove it carefully with fine-tipped tweezers, as crushing or damaging the tick could cause Lyme disease bacteria to pass from the tick into your bloodstream. Clean the area with soap and water once you have removed the tick.
Consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible if you have any concerns after a tick bite. If caught early, most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.
While the probability is low, it is possible to find an infected blacklegged tick almost anywhere in Ontario.
Lyme disease cases have been on the rise in the province.
Early symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and an expanding rash.
If left untreated, Lyme disease can make you feel tired and weak, and if it worsens, it can harm your heart, nerves, liver and joints, and in very rare cases, cause death.
While ticks are most active in spring and summer, they can be found at any time of the year when the temperature is above freezing.