This page was reviewed or revised on Tuesday, November 08, 2011 11:39 AM
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacteria borrelia burgdorferi. In Ontario, these bacteria are spread to humans by the bite of blacklegged ticks, also called the deer tick.
The risk of exposure to Lyme disease is highest in places where blacklegged ticks are established. In Ontario, ticks carrying the bacteria have been collected from Long Point Provincial Park, Rondeau Provincial Park, Turkey Point Provincial Park, Point Pelee National Park and St. Lawrence Islands National Park. The risk of contact with ticks begins in early spring when the weather warms up and lasts through to the end of fall.
Not all tick bites will result in disease and the symptoms and health effects caused by Lyme disease can vary for each person. The most common symptom is a red bull’s-eye rash that appears at the site of the tick bite between 3 and 30 days after the bite (average 10 days).
Flu-like symptoms can also develop, such as:
The later stages of Lyme disease can include:
These symptoms can occur weeks, months or even years after the initial symptoms have cleared.
If you have been bitten by a tick and develop the symptoms mentioned, contact your doctor immediately.
If detected early, Lyme disease can usually be treated with antibiotics. Lyme disease that goes undetected can develop into a serious, chronic infection that is more difficult to treat.
Ticks are very small. They vary in size and colour depending on their age and whether they have been feeding. Ticks must feed on blood from an animal or person to live. They feed by inserting their mouth into the skin of a person or animal.
Not all ticks carry Lyme disease. The American dog tick, which is the most common tick found in Lambton County, does not carry Lyme disease. The blacklegged tick, which is not commonly found in Lambton, can spread the Lyme disease bacteria to humans.
Image courtesy of Public Health Agency of Canada
When entering areas with tall grass, bushes and wooded areas where ticks live, take the following precautions:
Remove any ticks that you find on the skin or clothing promptly. Ticks are most likely to spread the bacteria after being attached to your skin and feeding for more than 24 hours.
Image courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Save the tick alive in a jar, screw-top bottle or doubled zip-lock bag. Bring it to the Community Health Services Department for identification.
Please note: only ticks found on humans or human related cases will be submitted for identification as of April 2009.
For more information contact the Community Health Services 519 383-8331 or toll free at 1-800-667-1839.