Be cautious the next time you go for a walk in the forest.

York Region Public Health has confirmed that blacklegged ticks were discovered in the York Regional Forest North Tract located in the Stouffville, along with the Boyd Conservation Area and Kortright Conservation Area in Vaughan.

The ticks found will be tested for Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria that can cause Lyme disease.

In Ontario, only the blacklegged tick can transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease but not all blacklegged ticks are infected with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. If a tick is infected, it is most likely to spread the infection after being attached for 24 hours or more.

“York Region Public Health reminds residents to protect themselves and their families against blacklegged ticks year round,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health. “While ticks are most active during the spring, summer and fall, they can also be active in winter when temperatures rise above freezing and there is no snow.”

Here are some safety tips to follow when heading into wooded or brushy natural areas:

  • Wear light coloured pants, long sleeved tops, closed footwear and tuck your pants into your socks
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin
  • Search your body for ticks, especially the groin, scalp, back and underarm areas and quickly remove attached ticks; visit ca/lymediseasefor instructions on how to safely remove ticks
  • You may be able to wash off unattached ticks by bathing or showering as soon as possible after coming indoors
  • Check your pets for ticks

York Region Public Health continues active tick surveillance throughout the fall and will conduct passive tick surveillance year round. Active tick surveillance involves dragging a cloth through brushy, wooded areas to assess the establishment of blacklegged tick populations in the community. Passive tick surveillance relies on residents submitting ticks to their local health unit, who send the ticks for identification and testing to determine if they are blacklegged ticks and if they carry the bacteria.

More information on Lyme disease and ticks is available at york.ca/lymedisease or by contacting York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653; TTY 1-866-512-6228.