Ottawa camp warns kids as cases of Lyme disease increase

There have been 61 cases of Lyme disease reported in Ottawa so far this summer, almost as many as all of last year, and a children's camp is warning parents and children to check for ticks.

Canoe camp warning children, parents to check for ticks and take precautions

Joel Hazzan, head coach of the Ottawa River Canoe Club, says campers and their parents are being warned of the precautions they should take around ticks. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

More people are taking precautions as the number of Lyme disease cases in Ottawa rises.

There have been 61 cases of Lyme disease reported in Ottawa since May. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) determined the city an at-risk area for Lyme disease, with more than one in five ticks testing positive for the disease in 2016.

There were 34 cases in the month of July and 21 in June.

Michael Bennitz, a public health inspector with OPH, said this time of year is when the bulk of the year's Lyme disease cases will be reported.

"Traditionally, and including last year, July and August are the peak season for when people are getting Lyme," Bennitz said.

Bennitz said it is too soon to say whether overall this has been a worse year for ticks in the city. Bennitz said more ticks have been reported.

"We've obviously increased in our numbers from last year, but that is in great part due to the awareness that's been going around about Lyme disease and ticks this year."

Bennitz said an increase in human cases would be the final measure as to whether this year was worse than previous years.

Camp warns parents

Joel Hazzan, head coach of the Ottawa River Canoe Club, said the club posted information on its website about ticks and Lyme disease and sends it to campers and parents before every session.

"Stay out of the long grass, stay out of the wooded areas around here, stay on the paths and where the boats are," he said.

"When you're getting changed at the end of the day, when you're going home and having a shower, just have a quick look over your body and make sure there's nothing crawling on you, make sure there's nothing buried in you."

There have been 61 reported cases of Lyme disease in Ottawa so far this year, the disease can be transmitted by ticks. (AFP/Getty Images)

The City has cleared a path through tall grass next to the Ottawa River Canoe Club parking lot so campers have a clear walk from the drop-off area to the river.

Hazzan also has a tick removal key and pair of tweezers, though he said he's never had to use them on a tick that anybody was exposed to at the club.

OPH recommends covering up, using bug spray and wearing lightly-coloured clothes so ticks are easier to spot. People should also check their armpits, groin and nape of the neck for ticks.

25 per cent of cases from exposure within Ottawa

OPH logs cases different ways depending on their origin. About a quarter of the cases, 15, come from exposure to Lyme disease inside Ottawa.

Another 15 cases come from exposure outside of Ottawa, according to OPH. 

The remaining 51 per cent of cases of Lyme disease reported so far this year are from "unknown exposure."