Fall surveillance finds new blacklegged tick

York Region has completed its active tick surveillance program for the year and confirms one blacklegged tick has been found in the vicinity of Joker’s Hill, located in King Township.

“Ticks found through our fall surveillance program have been sent to the national microbiology lab in Winnipeg to determine if it carries the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that can cause Lyme disease,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region medical officer of health. “York Region Public Health reminds residents and their families to take the appropriate precautions to protect themselves as ticks can be active during colder months when temperatures are above freezing and there is no snow.”

Surveillance turned up blacklegged ticks at North Tract – York Regional Forest, Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville (spring and fall); Joker’s Hill, King Township (spring and fall); Boyd Conservation Area, City of Vaughan (fall); and Kortright Conservation Area, City of Vaughan (fall). Finding blacklegged ticks in the spring and the fall in the same year indicates they are becoming established and there is a greater risk of encountering them in the area. As populations expand, it is possible the ticks could be present outside the areas identified by the health department.

Public health officers will continue to conduct passive tick surveillance year round and active surveillance during the spring and fall. Passive surveillance relies on residents submitting their finds to their local health unit for identification and testing. Active surveillance involves dragging a cloth through brush and wooded areas to assess the establishment of tick populations in the community.

Visit york.ca/lymedisease for more information on ticks and Lyme disease.

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