How to reduce your risk of tick-bites and Lyme disease during the warmer months

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Lyme disease is a potentially serious infection that comes from being bitten by an infected blacklegged tick. Infected ticks can be found almost anywhere in Ontario, particularly in wooded areas or areas with tall grasses and bushes, including city gardens and parks.

“Now that warmer weather is finally here, we want to ensure Ontarians know how to protect themselves from Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “The areas where ticks can be found are spreading, and as a result, more Ontarians are at a greater risk of getting a tick bite. By taking simple precautions, you can protect yourself and your family so that we can all enjoy the outdoors safely.”

When spending time outdoors, you can protect yourself from tick bites by:

  • Wearing light-coloured clothing so it’s easier to spot ticks.
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants tucked into your socks, and closed-toed shoes.
  • Using an insect repellent with DEET or icaridin in it, which is effective and safe when applied as directed on the label.
  • Staying on marked trails.
  • Checking yourself, your children, and your pets after being outdoors and removing any ticks promptly, and washing your clothes after an outdoor activity.

Blacklegged ticks are small and hard to see. If you find ticks on your body, remove them immediately with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. If you have any symptoms or health concerns after a tick bite, consult a health care provider as soon as possible. If caught early, most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

Infected blacklegged ticks can be found almost anywhere in the province, and there have been over 2,000 cases of Lyme disease in Ontario since 2019.

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. In severe cases, it can affect your heart, nerves, liver and joints, and, in very rare cases, cause death.

“Lyme disease is preventable and can be treated successfully if the necessary precautions are taken,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Ontario. “While ticks are most active in the spring and summer months, they can also be found during the fall when temperatures are still above freezing. I encourage everyone to follow these simple steps year-round to protect yourself and your families.”

While outdoor activities can help improve physical fitness and mental wellness, they are not risk-free and COVID-19 transmission can occur as a result of outdoor gatherings. The province is reminding Ontarians to continue following public health measures to reduce transmission of the virus, protect hospital and public health capacity, and save lives.

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