Milton and Halton Region considered low-risk area for Lyme Disease


Published August 2, 2022 at 10:22 am

While the Town of Milton and Halton Region are considered a risk area for blacklegged ticks, the region as a whole is considered a low-risk area for Lyme disease.

However, it is still important for Milton residents to take precautions against ticks that could be carrying the bacteria.

Each year, the Health Department conducts tick dragging in the spring and fall. This process involves Halton Region staff members performing a method of collecting ticks for the purpose of identifying risk areas.

So far this year, 20 blacklegged ticks have been reported in Halton.

A total of 10 were reported at Limehouse Conservation Area in Halton Hills and 10 at Mount Nemo Conservation Area in Burlington.

Lyme disease is a vector-borne disease and bacterial illness that is spread to people and animals through tick bites and was first identified in 1975 in Lyme, Connecticut. While the disease happens in phases, if it is not treated with antibiotics, it can affect the joints, heart and nervous system.

A bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi also causes Lyme disease and can be carried in mice, squirrels, birds and other small animals which can then spread to ticks when they feed on the infected animals. Then, if a tick bites the skin of a human and feeds on their blood, it can cause the human to become infected.

In Ontario, the black-legged tick, also known as the Ixodes scapularis or deer tick, spreads the disease to people and other animals.

It’s important to note that Lyme disease can also infect pets, such as dogs and cats, however, most animals don’t show any symptoms and a diagnosis can only be obtained through routine blood tests.

So, although the risk is low, how exactly can Milton and Halton residents protect themselves against Lyme disease?

The region suggests that residents cover themselves up when in and around wooded areas including areas with tall grass. They can do this by tucking their shirts into their pants and pant legs into their socks.

Residents are also encouraged to spray their clothing and exposed skin with an insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin and to always check for ticks on themselves, their children and their pets after being outside.

The first sign of a Lyme disease infection is usually a circular rash called erythema migrans (EM), which happens in about 70 to 80 per cent of people infected with the disease. The circular rash appears at the site of the tick bite three days to one month after a person is bitten.

Other symptoms include fatigue, chills, fever, headaches, muscle and joint pain and swollen lymph nodes. If the infection isn’t treated, the second stage of the disease can last for several months.

During the second stage of the disease, symptoms include nervous system disorders, multiple skin rashes, arthritis and arthritic symptoms, heart palpitations, severe fatigue and general weakness.

If the infection continues to go untreated, the third stage of the disease can last months to even years. Chronic arthritis and neurological symptoms can both be signs of the third stage of the disease.

Residents who are experiencing any of the symptoms above or think they might have Lyme disease are encouraged to book an appointment with their doctor.

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