Lyme disease is caused by the corkscrew-shaped bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi. In Ontario, this bacterium is spread by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks (commonly called deer ticks). Blacklegged ticks are the only type of tick in Ontario that can consistently transmit Lyme disease.
Common signs and symptoms of Lyme disease are fever, headache, muscle or joint pains, fatigue, and a skin rash, especially one that looks like a red bull's eye (the rash occurs in approximately 70-80% of infected individuals). The incubation period of the disease can be 7-10 days but can be within 3-32 days after an infected tick bite.
It is important that the tick is carefully removed and secured. We encourage you to contact Hastings Prince Edward Public Health so that we can have the tick identified and tested (testing only applies if tick acquired north of Highway 7 in our region) for the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Another option is to take the tick to your physician and in either case we recommend promptly seeing a physician for medical diagnosis and treatment.
West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus (WNv) is a disease that is transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes. The majority of infected individuals have mild or no symptoms. However, the elderly and those with certain chronic medical problems, including problems with their immune systems, can become ill. Early symptoms of WNv can include fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, confusion, severe headache, sudden sensitivity to light, tremors, numbness, or vision loss. The majority of infected individuals have mild symptoms or none at all. In severe cases, WNv can cause inflammation of the brain known as encephalitis. If individuals believe they are experiencing early symptoms of WNv, they are encouraged to contact their primary care provider.
Mosquitoes acquire the West Nile virus by feeding on infected birds. You cannot get the disease from person-to-person contact. No specific treatment or vaccination is available for West Nile virus. For severe illness, supportive therapy is provided.
How do I protect myself and my family?
Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. If residents need to be outside during this time, they are encouraged to wear light-coloured long-sleeved shirts and long pants, socks and a hat, and use an insect repellant containing DEET or Icaridin. Since mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, removing any sources of standing water such as small pools and birdbaths will help reduce the mosquito population. Ensuring that windows and doors are screened will help keep mosquitos outside.
If residents encounter a dead bird or other dead animal, they are advised not to handle it with bare hands, as it could be carrying WNv. Public Health recommends that dead birds or animals be buried using a shovel and gloves at a depth of at least 50cm in an area that will not be disturbed. Public Health should be notified if clusters of dead birds or animals are found.
For more information, call 613-966-5500 x 677.