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May 16, 2019

Tips from Toronto Public Health on avoiding Lyme disease
As the weather gets warmer, Toronto Public Health encourages residents to explore the outdoors across Toronto, but also to be informed about where blacklegged ticks can be found and take precautions to prevent getting Lyme disease.

Blacklegged ticks are the only type of tick in Ontario that can transmit Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. These ticks are usually found in bushy or wooded areas where there are lots of leaves on the ground or where there are tall grasses. The most effective way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites.

Symptoms of Lyme disease can include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, fatigue and a circular rash generally known as a "bull's eye" rash.

While areas of the city where ticks can be found and tick populations in general have increased, particularly in eastern parts of Toronto, the overall risk of acquiring Lyme disease in Toronto is low. The risk increases if doing activities in wooded and bushy areas.

Residents can follow these simple preventive steps when spending time outside:
• Use insect repellents containing DEET or icaridin, which are safe and effective for avoiding tick bites. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application.
• Wear long pants and long sleeves. Light-coloured clothing may make ticks easier to spot.
• Search your clothes and body when coming in from outdoors. Remember to also check your children and pets for ticks.
• Take a shower to remove any ticks before they become attached.
• If you find a tick on your body, it can be removed with fine-tipped tweezers by pulling the tick away from your skin gently but firmly.

Prompt removal of ticks from the skin will help prevent infection, as transmission of the Lyme disease-causing bacteria usually requires the tick to be attached for at least 24 hours. Early symptoms of Lyme disease usually occur within one to two weeks after a tick bite, but can occur as soon as three days or as long as a month after a bite.

If you develop any symptoms of Lyme disease within 30 days of removal of the tick and the tick was attached for 24 hours or more, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred and where you most likely acquired the tick.

In wooded and bushy areas (particularly in eastern parts of Toronto) where blacklegged tick populations are considered established, Get Tick Smart signs have been posted to remind the public to take personal protective measures when enjoying the outdoors. Ticks found in other parts of Toronto can be submitted to Toronto Public Health for identification and testing, which is useful for tracking locations in addition to those already known.

More information about blacklegged ticks and Lyme disease is available at


"Although we have seen an increase in tick populations in recent years, the overall risk of acquiring Lyme disease in Toronto is still considered low. Spending time outdoors is a great way to be active and stay healthy, but it's important for everyone to know how to protect themselves against tick bites and to recognize the early signs or symptoms of Lyme disease."
- Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto Medical Officer of Health

"Toronto Public Health's blacklegged tick monitoring and surveillance program provides an important public health service to all Toronto residents and visitors to the city. By informing the public what areas are known to have ticks and how they can avoid getting bitten, Toronto Public Health helps ensure the continued good health of our city and the people who live, work, and play here."
- Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York), Chair of the Toronto Board of Health

Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.9 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us on Twitter at, on Instagram at or on Facebook at

Media Contact
Keisha Mair
Toronto Public Health



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