Ottawa Public Health (OPH) – Lyme disease program for 2018
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is resuming its Lyme disease program for 2018. While there are tremendous health benefits to getting out and enjoying activities in the City’s many outdoor areas, it is important that residents be aware of the risks of Lyme disease, particularly if they are in areas suitable for ticks, e.g., wooded areas or areas with tall grasses. Key messages for the prevention of Lyme disease continue to be:
- Applying an approved insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin
- Wearing long pants and tucking them into your socks
- Doing a tick check on yourself, your children and pets
- Checking your pet daily for ticks, especially if it spends time in wooded or overgrown areas
- Removing ticks as soon as possible. If you find a tick on your body, using fine-pointed tweezers, grasp the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible and pull slowly until the tick is removed. Do not twist or rotate the tick. Do not use a match, lotion or anything else on the tick.
- Seeing your doctor if a tick has been attached for 24 or more hours or if it appears partially or fully engorged or if you are not sure. Also see your doctor if you develop a fever and other symptoms of Lyme disease (see OPH’s website at the link below) within 30 days of having had a tick attached.
OPH continues to work closely with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Public Heath Ontario to inform its programming and communications. Provincial surveillance is an important aspect of this programming and the passive surveillance (ticks submitted by residents) used in the past is no longer necessary since Ottawa is now considered a risk area for Lyme disease. As we continue our work monitoring Lyme disease in Ottawa, OPH’s focus for 2018 will be to enhance our targeted active surveillance involving tick drags. This will enable us to better track the expansion of blacklegged tick populations and the increasing prevalence of B. burgdorferi, the bacterial species that causes Lyme disease. In addition, OPH continues to collaborate with the research being done by uOttawa’s School of Epidemiology and Public Health into preferred tick habitat and factors of Lyme disease risk in Ottawa, which will help inform our surveillance and public communication strategies.