Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. These bacteria are spread by the bite of a blacklegged (deer) tick. The blacklegged tick is found throughout Ontario, including the Northwestern Health Unit region.
They are very small and hard to see. Not all blacklegged (deer) ticks carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Ticks must be attached for at least 24 hours for transmission of the bacterium to occur, and is most likely if they have been attached for at least two days of feeding.
Symptoms of Lyme disease usually begin within three days to one month of being bit. The symptoms include: fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and a skin rash that looks like a red bull's eye.
Risk of Lyme Disease
The risk of being bitten by a blacklegged tick largely depends on the activities of the person. A person is more likely to be bitten by a blacklegged tick if they are:
- walking through a wooded or bushy area
- not wearing protective clothing
- not using an appropriate insect repellant.
The risk of being bitten may be higher in Kenora, Rainy River or the areas surrounding these municipalities where black-legged ticks have been repeatedly collected. Some of these ticks tested positive for carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. If bitten, disease transmission can be prevented by removing the tick within 24 hours.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If a black-legged tick was attached for more than 24 hours, AND from Kenora, Rainy River or the areas surrounding these municipalities, consider visiting a health care provider within 72 hours of removing the tick.