If you are heading outdoors anywhere in Ontario this summer, you might be well advised to watch out for ticks that may be carrying Lyme disease. But residents of southeast Mississauga have even more reason to fear Lyme-carrying ticks as it has been designated as an area that has the highest risk in Peel for deer ticks, that cause Lyme disease.
However, the risk of acquiring Lyme disease in Peel Region remains low for now.
Lyme disease is transmitted to ticks when they feed on infected animals. People are infected if they are exposed to ticks for a prolonged period of time (at least 24 hours).
The first symptom is usually a circular rash that appears on a majority of people infected with Lyme disease, according to a report to Peel regional council. Other symptoms of early Lyme disease include: fatigue, chills, fever, headaches, muscle and joint pain and swollen lymph nodes.
Lyme disease if untreated has proven to be rather dangerous and many infected patients have suffered irreversible nervous system disorders, multiple skin rashes, arthritis symptoms, heart arrhythmias, severe fatigue and general weakness.
In Ontario, the risk for Lyme disease infection is highest in areas where the tick species has established populations, including parts of southern and eastern Ontario.
Southeastern Mississauga falls within a 20 kilometres radius for a known established tick population.
Tips to avoid Lyme infection
Wear long pants and sleeves that are tight at the waist, wrists, ankles and neck if you’re hiking in grassy or wooded areas.
Get regular check-ups if you experience common Lyme symptoms, especially if you spend time in high-risk areas.
If you discover a feeding tick, use a safe removal method. Proper tick removal will greatly reduce your risk of infection.
Check the exposed, hairy regions of your body daily during camping trips. Ticks like to hide in hair. Don’t forget to check your scalp!
Avoid endemic Lyme areas during the late spring/summer. Keep the grass in your yard cut and the hedges trimmed and neat.
Check your body and clothes for ticks after being in the garden or the woods. Ticks can cling to the folds of your clothing and bite you when you put the shirt/pants back on.
Wear insect repellent when travelling through high-risk areas. Check your friends and family for ticks and have them do the same for you – you can’t see your entire back and scalp.
Keep your yard clear of potential tick habitats, like piles of dead leaves, long grasses, bushes and woodpiles.
Discourage deer from coming into your yard. Deer are one of the main hosts for Lyme-carrying ticks.
Work with your veterinarian to ensure your pets are tick-free.