Ontario is encouraging people to protect themselves from tick bites and reduce the risk of Lyme disease when spending time outdoors.
Lyme disease is spread through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick, which can be found almost anywhere in Ontario. People living or visiting wooded areas with tall grass and bushes, or moist environments, should take the following precautions:
- Staying on marked trails, where possible
- Wearing long sleeves, pants, socks, and closed shoes
- Tucking pants into socks and wearing light-coloured clothing to make ticks more visible
- Using insect repellent with DEET or icaridin on clothes and exposed skin
- Checking your body thoroughly for ticks after being outdoors — promptly removing ticks can help prevent infection.
Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause serious health problems. An infection can lead to recurring arthritis, neurological problems, numbness, and paralysis. Consult a health care professional if you experience any of the following symptoms after a tick bite:
- Skin rash
- Muscle and joint pain
- Weakness, numbness or tingling
- Generally feeling unwell.
Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics when it is caught early.