While not yet considered Endemic, the Renfrew County District Health Unit says Lyme disease is here.

David Tantalo, Manager of Healthy Environments at the Unit, says that during surveillance of the tick population in 2019, 17% of them came back positive for Lyme disease. Because it is springtime and people are spending more time outdoors, they will begin their messaging so they can keep people aware of the risk posed by the bugs. While Tantalo doesn’t have the numbers for 2020 yet, he believes that Lyme disease is not yet endemic in the county. But he also says as the disease moves up from the south, one day it may be.

However, there are things you can do to protect yourself. For property owners, Tantalo suggests keeping grass short and doing a tick check on a pet anytime they come indoors. For those outdoors, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants with the legs tucked into the socks will help protect you. Wearing light clothing will make the bugs easier to spot. Tantalo says there is clothing now that has a repellant built into the cloth. If you are going to use your own repellent, make sure that it has icaridin or Deet in it and apply it per the instructions on the can. When you return from a walk, make sure to get other people to check you, as ticks can hide on your person in places you won’t be able to see.

Should you find a tick, Tantalo suggests using fine-tipped tweezers, and to pull it out by the head in order to get all the body parts out. The Health Unit offers free testing to anyone who brings a tick in to them. Symptoms of Lyme disease include a bullseye-shaped rash, fever, chills and muscle aches. If you have symptoms, Tantalo says you will need to call a doctor.