Tick surveillance program launched by WECHU

Tick awareness month

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is launching an active tick surveillance program.

This involves the identification and testing of ticks that are collected by public health staff. The field surveillance is conducted at public parks and trails that are frequently used by residents to retrieve local data of tick populations.

"Lyme disease is a serious disease that is spread by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. These tiny little creatures can be found in wooded areas such as campgrounds, parks, trails and even in your own backyard", says Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Acting Medical Officer of Health. "By taking simple precautions, residents can reduce the risk of being bitten by a tick."

If you find a tick on your body, quickly remove the tick with a tick key or a pair of tweezers. Gently wash the bite and surrounding area with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. If you are concerned about the possibility of Lyme Disease, the WECHU advises:

- Do not dispose of the tick. Keep it in a container or a small plastic bag that can be sealed. Place a piece of damp paper towel in the container or the bag. Contact your health care provider and discuss if any further action is required.
- The Health Unit no longer accepts ticks for identification and testing. You can submit a photograph of the tick to etick.ca, a free online service for identification.

The WECHU is also making several recommendations to avoid ticks:
-Avoid walking in tall grass and stay on the centre of paths.
-Cover up. Wear long- sleeved shirts and pants.
-Wear 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 2 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. 

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