Lyme Disease

Fact Sheet Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF)481KB

Fight the Bite Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF)993KB

Submit-a-Tick Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF)223KB

Blacklegged tick
Photo credit: Jim Gathany

What is Lyme Disease?

  • Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by the blacklegged tick.

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Where are the high-risk locations in Ontario?

  • In Ontario the areas of known risk for Lyme disease are:
    • Long Point Provincial Park
    • Point Pelee National Park
    • Rondeau Provincial Park
    • Turkey Point Provincial Park
    • Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area
    • Wainfleet Bog Conservation Area
    • St. Lawrence Islands National Park
    • Pinery Provincial Park
    • Rouge Valley
    • Northwestern Ontario in the region of Lake of the Woods
  • Any one engaged in outdoor activities in wooded, brushy, or tall grass areas should take measures to prevent tick bites.
  • Certain areas in the United States have been identified as having a greater number of higher-risk areas.
    • If you're travelling to the US, find out if you should be concerns about Lyme diseases by:
      • Contacting the area to which you're travelling.
      • Lyme Disease Statistics External Link
        Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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What are the symptoms of Lyme Disease?

Symptoms of Lyme disease can be different from person to person and usually begin within three days to one month after being bitten by an infected tick.

Common signs and symptoms of Lyme disease can include any of the following:

  • Circular, red rash (often, but not always, looks like a ‘bull’s-eye’ ), which slowly expands around the tick bite area
  • Extreme fatigue (tiredness) and weakness
  • Headache and neck stiffness
  • Fever or chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Spasms, numbness or tingling

Additional symptoms can include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Central and peripheral nervous system disorders (involving the brain, nerves and spinal cord)
  • Arthritis and arthritic symptoms (muscle and joint aches, join swelling)
  • Heart palpitations or abnormal heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Conjunctivitis

If left untreated or treated insufficiently, Lyme disease may have long-term effect on the joints, nervous system and heart.

Some people may experience symptoms that last months to years after treatment. Although sometimes called "chronic Lyme disease," this condition is properly known as "Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome".

Symptoms of Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome can include:

  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Cognitive dysfunction

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How can I avoid ticks?

  • Avoid tick-infested areas.
  • Walk in the centre of trails to avoid overhanging brush.
  • Around homes near natural areas, keep a buffer of a mowed, grassy area.
  • Remove leaf litter and brush.
  • Move or elevate wood piles.
  • Prune trees and brush to allow in more sunlight.
  • Use fencing to restrict deer.

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How can I protect myself from tick bites?

  • Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants. 
    • The light colours will help you see whether there are any ticks on your clothing.
  • Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pant legs into your socks to help keep ticks away from your bare skin.
  • Wear shoes that cover your entire foot (avoid sandals or open shoes).
  • Spray clothing and exposed skin with an insect repellent that contains DEET. 
    • Read and follow the manufacturer's directions for safe use.
  • After finishing your outdoor activity, check your clothing and your entire body for any ticks, especially the groin, armpits, and hairline.
  • Check your pets regularly for ticks.

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I found a tick attached to my skin. What do I do?

  1. With fine-tip tweezers grasp the tick's head and mouth parts as close to your skin as possible.
  2. Slowly pull until the tick is removed.
  3. Be careful not to twist or crush the tick during removal.
    • If this does occur the risk of infection is not increased. 
    • Keeping the tick intact will help in the identification of the tick.
  4. Store the tick in a container.
  5. After removing the tick, use soap and water to wash the area where you were bitten.
  6. Contact the Health Department for information on having the tick tested Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) 223KB.
  7. See your physician right away if you develop a rash or other symptoms.

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Related Links

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