Area residents are once again being reminded to take precautions when enjoying the outdoors after blacklegged ticks have been found in several natural wooded areas across York Region.
As part of its spring tick surveillance, York Region Public Health has found blacklegged ticks at the Kortright Centre for Conservation, Boyd Conservation Area and Bindertwine Park in the City of Vaughan. Blacklegged ticks were also found in the Town of Georgina at the York Region Metro Road Forestry Tract, in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville at the Porritt York Region Forest Tract and in the Township of King at the Cold Creek Conservation Area.
Lyme disease is an illness spread through the bite of a blacklegged tick – also known as a deer tick – that is infected with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Ticks found through the surveillance program have been sent to the National Microbiology Lab to test for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
“Not all ticks are infected with the bacteria, so not all tick bites spread Lyme disease,” says Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health. “However, residents are advised to take precautions to protect both people and pets from tick bites.” Keep these tips in mind when visiting wooded or brushy natural areas:
- Wear light-coloured pants and long-sleeved tops to help spot ticks
- Choose closed footwear and tuck your pants into your socks
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin
- Search your body for ticks, especially the groin, scalp, back and underarm areas
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off unattached ticks
- Safely remove attached ticks from your body as quickly as possible
- Check your pets for ticks
Spring tick surveillance is being conducted across additional natural public spaces, including municipal parks, conservation areas, regional forest tracts and ravines. Visit the Lyme disease webpage for regular updates on locations where blacklegged ticks are found.
Public Health conducts active tick surveillance in the spring and fall and passive tick surveillance year-round. More information on Lyme disease, personal protection and tick removal is available at york.ca/lymedisease or by contacting York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653; TTY 1-866-512-6228.