The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is promoting the use of a free app to help identify ticks in the area.
The app, eTick.ca, will identify ticks based on photos submitted by users. According to public data released by eTick.ca, there have been blacklegged ticks identified in Barrie, Clearview Township, Wasaga Beach, Midland, Innisfil, Bradford, and Orillia.
Blacklegged ticks are the species that can transmit Lyme disease, though they do not always carry or spread the disease.
There have been 11 blacklegged ticks reported in Barrie in May and June of 2020. There were three reported found on animals, seven reportedly found on humans and one found "free." The locations vary including ravines, hiking trails, Centennial Park, and backyards.
The blacklegged tick reported in Clearview was found on an animal on May 28 and was believed to be picked up in a grassy area next to Pretty River in Nottawa. A blacklegged tick was also reportedly discovered on an animal in Wasaga Beach on May 28 this year.
A blacklegged tick was reported in Midland and found on a human, it was picked up in a "field or a ditch" near the person's home.
There are five reports of blacklegged ticks in Innisfil on eTick.ca. Three ticks were found on humans and two on animals. They were picked up in various spots, with at least two from the Simcoe County Forest.
There were two blacklegged ticks reportedly found on humans in Bradford, they were picked up in the Simcoe County Forest and in the Sinclair Tract.
One blacklegged tick was reportedly found on an animal and picked up in Orillia. No specific location details were included.
All of the above-reported ticks were discovered in May or June of 2020.
According to the health unit, if you discover a blacklegged tick on you (and have identified it through eTick.ca, you should call your health care provider.
The health unit is not accepting submission of ticks due to COVID-19 physical distancing measures, but if you are unable to use eTick.ca, you can bring the tick to your health care provider, in a sealed bag or container if you have removed it, and they can submit it to the Public Health Ontario laboratory for identification and bacterial testing.
If you are bitten by a tick, you should remove the tick as soon as possible, according to the health unit. Use tweezers to grab and pull the tick from as close to your skin as possible. Avoid squeezing the tick's abdomen. Clean the bite with rubbing alcohol and/or soap and water.
Keep the tick in a container in the refrigerator and keep a note of the location on your body and the date you were bitten in case you need medical attention later.
The health unit offers these tips for protecting yourself from ticks:
- Wear light-coloured clothing (which makes it easier to spot ticks) and tucking pants into socks and shirts into pants
- Use insect repellent such as DEET or Icaridin, following manufacturer's recommendations
- When you return from being outdoors:
- do a full body check of yourself, children, and pets; if you find a tick, remove it immediately; and
- shower or bath within two hours to check private areas and wash away any loose ticks that may be on your body or in your hair.
- If you find a tick attached to the skin, remove it right away. An infected tick has to be attached for more than 24 hours before the bacteria that causes Lyme disease can be transmitted. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight away.
For more information on protecting yourself and your family from ticks and Lyme disease, see the health unit’s website at www.simcoemuskokahealth.org, or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.