As the warm weather returns and you look forward to spending more time outdoors, you’re encouraged to ‘fight the bite’ by covering up and cleaning up.
As York Region prepares to launch its 2018 vector-borne disease program in May to limit the impact of West Nile virus, Lyme disease and Zika virus activity, it advises residents to cover up with light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and long pants and to clean up standing water around your home where mosquitoes like to breed, such as flower pots, old tires, tin cans and pool covers.
Vector-borne diseases are transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito or tick. Prevention is the best defense against West Nile virus, Lyme disease and Zika virus. The Region offers these additional tips:
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin
- Cover up exposed skin when you go outside by wearing long-sleeved shirts or jackets, long pants and socks
- Check yourself and your children for ticks, paying special attention to the groin, scalp, underarm areas and back.
Remove attached ticks as quickly as possible. Grasp the tick with a set of tweezers as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull the tick straight out until it is removed. Also, be sure to check your pets regularly for ticks. Dogs and cats can’t spread Lyme disease but can bring infected ticks into your home.
More cases of Lyme disease were reported in York Region in 2016-17 compared to previous years because of higher temperatures, precipitation, climate change and expanded risk areas throughout the Region.
Lyme disease is spread through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick – also known as a deer tick. Early symptoms typically occur within one to two weeks of a tick bite but can occur as soon as three days or as long as a month. Initial symptoms differ from person to person, which makes Lyme disease very difficult to diagnose. Some people may have no symptoms at all while others may suffer severe symptoms but not for weeks after the bite and may not associate the illness with the bite.
Signs of Lyme disease can include one or more of the following symptoms with varying degrees of severity: fatigue, fever or chills, headache, spasms or weakness, numbness or tingling, swollen lymph nodes, skin rash, brain fog or dizziness, nervous system disorders, muscle and joint pain, and abnormal heartbeat. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you can begin recovery.
For more information on vector-borne diseases, contact York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or TTY 1-866-252-9933. Visit york.ca/westnile and york.ca/lymedisease for more information, including local areas where blacklegged ticks have been found, how and where to submit a tick for testing.