Preliminary tick surveillance results from the Kenora area are emphasizing the need to take preventive measures to prevent tick bites when outdoors.
The Northwestern Health Unit recently conducted tick surveillance in and around Kenora, and analysis showed higher rates of Lyme disease in black-legged ticks.
“The black-legged tick samples that we examined showed an overall increase in the number of ticks carrying Lyme disease,” noted Kit Young-Hoon, Medical Officer of Health with the Northwestern Health Unit.
“However, to better assess the results, we’ll be doing another round of sampling this fall,” she added.
This year, the number of testing sites in the Kenora area increased.
Testing was done in areas with a high concentration of oak species, rather than focusing exclusively on public trails.
There are many health benefits from outdoor activities.
“This new data should not stop people from enjoying or working outdoors, but it should be a reminder to prevent tick bites to protect yourself and your family,” stressed Thomas Nabb, manager of Environmental Health at the health unit.
Follow these safety measures to prevent tick bites:
•Avoid places with long grasses. If you are hiking or walking, stay in the centre of the trail.
•Wear light-coloured clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
•Use an insect repellent with DEET (be sure to follow the product label guidelines especially for use on infants, children, and pregnant women).
•Check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks after being outdoors.
•Ensure all ticks are removed properly as soon as possible, or at least within 24 hours.
There are primarily two different types of ticks common to Northwestern Ontario.
Black-legged (deer) ticks are smaller, dark brown or black, with no white markings on their back.
Female ticks have an orange or red back.
The much more common, larger wood or dog ticks have reddish-brown bodies and legs, with white markings on its back.
These are not known to carry Lyme disease.
If you have found a tick on yourself or someone else, you can drop it off at your local health unit office to be identified by a public health inspector.
Black-legged (deer) ticks will be sent for further lab testing.
The health unit also has tick identification cards and removal kits available.
For more information, visit www.nwhu.on.ca or contact a public health inspector at your local health unit office.