June 21, 2017
Fight the bite. Take steps to prevent tick bites.
This summer, know what to look for when checking for ticks
Oxford County Public Health is encouraging residents to protect themselves from blacklegged ticks, which may carry Lyme disease. Each year, as tick populations expand in Southwestern Ontario, so does the threat of Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can lead to a wide range of symptoms, occurring days or even months after the initial bite. Symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, swollen glands and an expanding skin rash resulting in a target or “bull’s-eye” appearance. If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to long-term, chronic symptoms that are hard to resolve.
Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, thrive in wet environments and tend to live in tall grasses, woods, and bushes. Infected ticks are commonly found in “risk areas” along the northern shores of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. However, it is possible to encounter a blacklegged tick almost anywhere in Ontario. It’s important for residents to know the risks of Lyme disease and to take precautions when spending time outdoors, especially in wooded and brushy areas alongside any of Oxford County’s recreational trails or parks.
According to a recent Oxford Health Matters survey, over two-thirds of Oxford County residents (70.8%) spent time outdoors in grassy fields or wooded areas. Of those who spent time outdoors, only 65.5 per cent took steps to protect themselves, and even fewer (58.0%) checked for ticks after being outdoors.
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to protect yourself from tick bites in the first place. Oxford County Public Health recommends these tips to fight the bite:
- Use an insect repellant that contains 20-30% DEET
- Wear clothing treated with permethrin
- Take a shower as soon as you can after coming indoors
- Look for ticks on your body. Ticks can hide under the armpits, behind the knees, in the hair, and the groin.
- Put clothes in the dryer on high heat for 60 minutes to kill any remaining ticks
More information about personal protection and tips to reduce your risk is available on the Oxford County Public Health website.
If you find a tick on yourself or a family member, carefully remove it with fine-tip tweezers and submit it to Public Health for identification. If you remove a tick quickly (within 24 hours), you can greatly reduce your chances of getting Lyme disease.
If you find a tick on your dog or cat and are concerned, please follow up with your veterinarian. It is important to regularly check pets that spend time outdoors, as they may inadvertently bring ticks indoors, putting your family at risk.
The 2017 Oxford Health Matters Survey on Lyme disease can be found online at www.oxfordcounty.ca/health.
Peter Heywood, Manager of Health Protection, Oxford County Public Health
“Even though Oxford County is not a risk area for the ticks that carry Lyme disease, we know that ticks can latch onto birds and deer to find their way here. It’s always important to practice personal protection strategies when heading outdoors, and if you’re heading to Long Point or Turkey Point, protecting yourself should always be a priority.”
Social media and online content
Facebook: Oxford County Public Health
Twitter: Oxford County
Oxford County Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus online resources
About Oxford County
Located in the heart of southwestern Ontario at the crossroads of Highways 401 and 403, Oxford County has a population of approximately 114,000 people across eight municipalities that are “growing stronger together” through a partnership-oriented, two-tier municipal government incorporated as the County of Oxford. Oxford County is emerging as a leader in sustainable growth through the Future Oxford Community Sustainability Plan and County Council’s commitment to becoming a zero waste community and achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050. Situated in one of Ontario’s richest areas for farmland, agriculture is a key industry that serves as a springboard for some of the sustainable industries that are steadily diversifying the local economy. Oxford County offers a thriving local arts, culture and culinary community, as well as conservation parks, natural areas and more than 100 kilometres of scenic trails. The Oxford County Administration Building is located in Woodstock, Ontario. Visit www.oxfordcounty.ca or follow our social media sites at www.oxfordcounty.ca/social. Oxford County’s Strategic Plan is at oxfordcounty.ca/strategicplan.
Donna Kemp | Strategic Communication & Engagement
519.539.9800, ext. 3158 | firstname.lastname@example.org