Tick season is here and the health unit in Windsor-Essex is on the lookout
Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will test ticks for Lyme disease
As more people head outdoors to enjoy the springtime, the health unit is warning residents to watch out for ticks.
The annual tick surveillance program is in full swing at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. Four volunteers will be dragging sheets in the tall grass to check for ticks in the area.
In 2017, the health unit tested 386 ticks, 32 were black legged ticks and two tested positive for Lyme. There were two confirmed cases of the disease in Windsor-Essex in 2016.
There has been an increase in ticks with Lyme over the last few years, said Elaine Bennett, a certified public health inspector with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
Essex County does have some endemic areas like Point Pelee National Park, so the health unit won't be checking that area. Bennett said they will want "to determine if the ticks are located in other areas throughout Windsor-Essex County."
Four volunteers will drag sheets in the tall grass for an hour and then submit what they find attached to the sheets for identification. It will take a few weeks to get the results.
Here's some information from the health unit on how to deal with ticks.
There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from ticks.
- Use insect repellent
- Avoid walking in tall grass and stay on the centre of paths.
- Cover up. Wear long- sleeved shirts and pants and light coloured clothing to spot ticks easily.
- Tuck your pants into your socks and wear closed toed shoes.
- Do a full body check on yourself, children and pets after being outdoors.
- Shower within two hours of being outdoors.
- Put your clothes into a dryer on high heat (at least 60 minutes) to kill any possible ticks
- Put a tick collar on your pets.
- Keep grass in your yard short.
If you get bit
It's important to remove a tick immediately if you find one on you, said the health unit. You can use tweezers, but never remove a tick with your fingers.
Symptoms of Lyme disease
According to the health unit, Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that's spread via blacklegged tick bites.
Early signs of the disease usually happen about a week or two after being bitten. But, they can occur as soon as three days, or as long as a month after being bitten by a tick.
Symptoms may include:
- muscle and joint pains
- fatigue (tiredness)
- skin rash that looks like a red bull's eye
- numbness or tingling
- swollen lymph nodes
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit accepts ticks that are found on humans — but not on pets — from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can bring the tick in a closed, sealed container or a small plastic bag. If a tick is found on a pet, the health unit recommends talking to your vet.