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Deer Tick Tests Positive for Lyme Disease In Thunder Bay

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THUNDER BAY, ON  -----  July 12, 2010  For the second time this year, the Deer Tick Thunder Bay District Health Unit has received laboratory confirmation that a deer tick found locally has tested positive for Lyme disease.  While the first positive deer tick was found on a dog, this latest tick was found on a human who picked up the tick within the city limits. This is just the second positive test for Lyme disease in a tick since the Health Unit started monitoring and testing in 2005 and the first for a tick found on a human.

To date, 479 ticks have been submitted to the Health Unit for testing in 2010.  Of that total, 97% (465) have been identified as harmless wood ticks.  Although the majority of ticks in the Thunder Bay District are wood ticks, it should be noted that some deer ticks have been identified and these ticks have the potential to carry and transmit Lyme disease; a serious inflammatory illness which affects the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and joints.

Dr. Henry Kurban, the Health Unit’s Acting Medical Officer of Health, stresses the importance of prevention. “The best way to prevent coming into contact with Lyme disease is to take steps to reduce the risk of a tick bite.  There are specific strategies the public can follow.  More information about these strategies can be found on the Health Unit’s website at tbdhu.com”

The key strategies include:

Staying clear of areas with tall grass where ticks are more common.
Wearing light coloured clothing to make it easier to see ticks.
Covering up by tucking pants into socks and wearing long sleeves.
Checking for ticks before going indoors; this includes pets, especially long-haired dogs.
Using insect repellants with DEET and following the manufacturer’s instructions.
The best way to remove a tick, including those found on pets, is to use tweezers to grab the head of the tick as close to the skin as possible and then gently but firmly pull the tick straight up and out of the skin.  It is important not to squeeze the body of the tick, or try to burn or smother it. The Health Unit’s website (tbdhu.com/id) contains accurate and up-to-date information for the public, including details on how to safely remove a tick and what to do with it once it has been removed. 

The public health inspectors, along with the Health Unit’s bio-consultant Dr. Ken Deacon, rely on the assistance of the public to monitor the local tick population in the district.  Dr. Deacon will identify all ticks found on humans or pets that are submitted by the public. All deer ticks are then sent for laboratory testing.  Ticks can be dropped off in a sealed container at the 999 Balmoral Street office or at any of the branch offices in the District.  At that time, information will be gathered, including the location where the tick was found.

For more information, including tick submissions, please call a Public Health Inspector at 625-8318 or 1-888-294-6630, ext. 8318.

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