Before hitting the trails this long weekend, Toronto Public Health is encouraging residents to be aware of their surroundings and take precautions against ticks.
"Although we have seen an increase in tick populations in recent years, the overall risk of acquiring Lyme disease in Toronto is still considered low", said Dr. Eileen de Villa in a statement issued Thursday.
Lyme disease is spread through the bite of an infected black-legged tick. These symptoms can be extremely debilitating because the disease, which is transmitted by ticks from the white-tailed deer and other mammals into the human bloodstream, attacks the heart and the nervous system.
You can find ticks in tall grass or wooded areas, but they're present in urban places too: researchers are finding that ticks are migrating further north and more of them are surviving through winter because the season isn't as cold as it used to be.
They can be the size of a poppy seed right up to pea size, but not all black-legged ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.
"That's why it's very important when you return home to do the tick checks and to shower", Pacheco said.
Even better than early prognosis is prevention.
Ticks can not fly or jump; instead they rest on the ends of grass or shrubs waiting for a person or animal to brush by.
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The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predict there will be 329,000 reported new cases of Lyme disease this year, making it one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in the United States and Western Europe. In Ontario on Thursday, Toronto Public Health held a press conference on programs to identify ticks with Lyme disease.
TPH tracks the locations where blacklegged ticks have been found.
Possible symptoms: Include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain and stiff neck, 70-80% of people with lyme disease get a circular "bull's eye" rash.
Symptoms of Lyme disease usually appear within one to two weeks after a tick bite, but could occur within days or as long as a month afterwards.
Prevention: Wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers when out in woody areas, where bug repellent with Deet or Icaridin, mow lawn regularly and remove leaf litter, brush and weeds, keep child swing sets and sandboxes away from woodland's edge.
"If you find blacklegged ticks on your body, remove them as soon as possible with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water".
Doing a "full body" tick check after being outside on yourself, your children and your pets. Place the tick in a container and bring it to your healthcare provider or the Huron County Health Unit for identification and testing if needed.
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