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Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by the blacklegged tick. Learn how to protect yourself and your family against Lyme disease.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick.

Do all ticks carry Lyme disease?

In Ontario, the only ticks known to carry Lyme disease are blacklegged ticks.

Where is there a risk for ticks/Lyme disease in Halton?

In the spring and fall of 2018, Halton Region staff members performed tick dragging. This is a method of collecting ticks for the purpose of identifying risk areas where past tick surveillance indicated the potential presence of blacklegged ticks. Based on this surveillance, most of Halton is considered a risk area for Lyme disease (external PDF). However, it’s important to practice proper tick prevention in all areas in Halton where ticks are more likely to be present (wooded, tall grass or brushy areas).

How can I prevent tick bites?

There are several steps you can take to prevent tick bites:

  • If possible, avoid known tick environments (such as wooded, brushy or tall grass areas) and stay on trails when outdoors.
  • Cover up by wearing long sleeved, light coloured shirts and pants with tightly woven fabric.
  • Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pant legs into your socks to keep ticks away from your bare skin.
  • Wear shoes that cover your entire foot, avoiding sandals or open shoes.
  • Spray clothing and exposed skin with an insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin.
  • Check your clothing and body for any ticks, especially around the groin, armpits and hairline after spending time outdoors. Carefully remove any ticks found on yourself or a family member and submit them to the Halton Region Health Department for identification.
  • Check your pets regularly for ticks as they could carry them inside your home.
  • Shower or bathe within two hours or being outdoors to wash away loose ticks.
  • After outdoor activity, put clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill any ticks.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

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

  • 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
  • mental confusion
  • central and peripheral nervous system disorders (involving the brain, nerves and spinal cord)
  • arthritis and arthritic symptoms (muscle and joint aches, joint swelling)
  • heart palpitations or abnormal heartbeat
  • dizziness
  • conjunctivitis
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • joint and muscle aches
  • sleep disturbance
  • cognitive dysfunction

If you were bitten by a tick and experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately.

  • Lyme disease may have long-term effect on the joints, nervous system and heart if left untreated or treated insufficiently.
  • Some people may experience symptoms that last months to years after treatment. Although sometimes called "chronic Lyme disease," this condition is known as "Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome".

If I find a tick on myself or a family member/friend, what should I do?

If you find a tick on your body, remove it as soon as possible. The risk of getting Lyme disease increases with the length of time the tick remains attached. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely low.

How to remove a tick:

  • Use fine-tip tweezers to grasp the tick’s head and mouth parts as close to your skin as possible.
  • Slowly pull straight out until the tick is removed.
  • Be careful not to twist or crush the tick during removal.
  • If this occurs, the risk of infection is not increased.
  • Keeping the tick intact will help in the identification of the tick.
  • Store the tick in a sealed dry container. Do not squish the tick.
  • After removing the tick, use soap and water to wash the area of the bite.
How to remove a tick

See your doctor or healthcare provider right away if you have been bitten by a tick or develop symptoms consistent with Lyme disease.

How do I submit a tick?

Halton Region is gathering information to monitor the types and locations of ticks in Halton.

If you find a tick on yourself or a family member you must:

  • Remove the tick as soon as possible and store the tick in a sealed dry container. Do not squish the tick.
  • Submit the tick for identification and testing to:
    • Halton Region Health Department
      1151 Bronte Road
      Oakville, Ontario
      L6M 3L1
    • Hours: Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

A health inspector will call you with identification results two to four weeks after your submission. Results are used for surveillance purposes only and are not intended for clinical diagnosis.

Can Lyme disease affect my pet?

Yes, just like humans, Lyme disease can affect pets. Check your pet for signs of ticks or tick bites and if you are concerned that your pet has been bitten, talk to your veterinarian.

How can I reduce the number of blacklegged ticks around my home?

Here are some ways to limit exposure to ticks near your home:

  • Mow the lawn regularly to keep the grass short.
  • Remove leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn and around stonewalls and woodpiles.
  • Stack firewood neatly and in a dry area.
  • Put barriers to exclude deer around your home and seal stonewalls and small openings to discourage rodent activity.
  • Place children's recreational playground sets, patios and decks away from the yard edges and trees. Place them on a woodchip or mulch foundation and in a sunny location, if possible.
  • Treat pets that are commonly exposed to ticks with oral or topic acaricides (pesticide) as recommended by your veterinarian.

Tick surveillance activity

The Health Department conducts tick dragging in the spring and fall. This is a method of collecting ticks to identify risk areas where past tick surveillance indicated the potential presence of blacklegged ticks and is the physical collection of blacklegged ticks from suitable tick habitats.

Location of tick dragging Number of blacklegged ticks found in spring Number of blacklegged ticks found in fall
Royal Botanical Gardens 4 26
Lowville Park 0 0
Mount Nemo Conservation Area 1 1
Bronte Creek Provincial Park 1 6
Joshua’s Valley Park 0 5
Hungry Hollow Trails 0 0
Georgetown Fairgrounds 1 0
Brookville Veterinary Clinic 0 Not conducted
Halton County Radial Rail Museum 0 0
Kerncliff Park Not conducted 1

Note: None of the blacklegged ticks found from active surveillance (tick dragging) tested positive for B. burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.