Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Barrie Office
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Board Meeting Notes April 19, 2017

May 01, 2017
Board notes items: Looking for ticks in Simcoe Muskoka; Opioid emergencies on the rise in Simcoe Muskoka

Looking for ticks in Simcoe Muskoka

Simcoe Muskoka is not considered high risk for Lyme disease exposure. However there are indicators that have prompted the Board of Health to provide an active tick surveillance program this year. In the last two years, four black-legged ticks in Simcoe Muskoka have tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Tick dragging, a process of pulling fabric through grass and shrubs to pick up ticks, will be conducted in our area in the spring and fall, when ticks are most active. The ticks’ species will be identified, and if they are black-legged ticks, Ixodes scapularis, they will be further tested for presence of the Lyme bacteria. Sites will be chosen for the surveillance based on information about past tick activity.

The health unit’s involvement in Lyme disease surveillance to date has been focused on monitoring for the disease and accepting ticks submitted by local residents for testing. In each of 2015 and 2016, members of the public submitted about 140 ticks to the health unit for testing.

Opioid emergencies on the rise in Simcoe Muskoka

The number of emergency trips to hospital for people with opioid poisoning in Simcoe Muskoka has been rising since 2003, and is substantially higher than the provincial rate, the Simcoe Muskoka Board of Health learned this week. They also learned this trend is seen in the number of opioid deaths, both provincially and in Simcoe Muskoka. From 2013 to 2015, there was an average of 30 deaths per year in Simcoe Muskoka, with a significant increase to 35 deaths in 2015. Janice Greco, the health unit’s manager of injury and substance misuse prevention, said a Simcoe Muskoka-wide opioid strategy is in the works to develop comprehensive efforts towards prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement. A first meeting is scheduled later in May for a range of health providers and community organizations, led by the health unit, the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN, and the Simcoe Muskoka Alcohol and Other Drug Strategy working group.

The Board of Health praised the Ontario government for appointing the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health as its first Provincial Overdose Coordinator, and urged immediate plans with measurable targets to reduce harm.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the board of health takes place April 19 at 9:15 a.m.
in the Barrie office, 15 Sperling Drive.

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