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Lyme Disease and Blacklegged Ticks

CDC/ James GathanyAn infected blacklegged tick can spread Lyme disease to humans through a bite.

Blacklegged ticks are often found in forests and overgrown areas with long grass such as fields and trails. If you are an outdoor worker, participate in outdoor activities - such as hiking and camping - in wooded and over grown areas, you could be at risk of a tick bite.

However, tick bites ARE preventable

Click on the headings below for tips on how to reduce your risk of a tick bite and instructions on what to do if you find a tick on you. 

  • Wear light coloured long-sleeved shirts, pants and closed-toe shoes. Light coloured clothing makes ticks easier to spot. 
  • Tuck shirt into pants and pull socks over the pant legs.
  • Use personal insect repellent such as DEET or Icaridin (to apply follow manufacturers recommendations)
  • When you return from being outdoors:
    • do a full body check of yourself, children and pets; if you find a tick remove it immediately (see below), and 
    • shower or bath within 2 hours to check private areas and wash away any loose ticks that may be on your body or in your hair.
  • Quick removal of ticks from your skin will help prevent infection. The Lyme disease bacteria usually needs the tick to be attached for more than 24 hours.
  • Using fine-tipped tweezers, carefully grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Pull it straight out, gently but firmly.
  • Don't squeeze it. Squeezing the tick can cause the Lyme disease bacteria to be accidentally introduced into your body.
  • Don't put anything on the tick, or try to burn the tick off.
  • After the tick has been removed, place it in screw-top bottle or a sealed bag (like a pill vial or Ziploc bag), and take it to your health care provider or local health unit. They can send it to the Ontario Public Health Laboratory for identification. In Ontario, the black legged tick (also known as "deer tick") is the tick of concern for Lyme disease.
  • It is important to remember where you most likely acquired the tick. It will help public health workers to identify areas of higher risk.
  • Clean the bite with rubbing alcohol and/or soap and water.
  • Speak to your health care provider to help assess your risk of Lyme disease.

Removing tick "living" areas around your home is key in protecting you and your family. Recommendations include:

  • keep your grass mowed and trimmed,
  • rake and remove piles of leaves, brush and weeds from your lawn and lawn ornaments,
  • move woodpiles and bird feeders away from the house,
  • your pets can bring ticks into your home. Check your pets often and talk to your vet about tick, repellents for your pets, and 
  • do not place swing sets, sandboxes or patios near the edge of property where there are overgrown areas or forests.

Most tick bites are painless. The majority of bites will not result in disease because most ticks are not infected with the bacteria responsible for causing Lyme disease.

If you find a tick, bring it to your local health unit. To speed up the drop-off process you may fill out the form online, print and bring in with the tick. Following your submission a health unit staff member will contact you to go over the form.

For questions about the tick submission process:

Lyme Disease factsheet, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit 

For symptoms common with Lyme Disease see the Government of Canada's  information.

For treatment options with Lyme Disease see the Government of Canada's information.

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