Lyme disease is an infection transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. In Ontario, Lyme disease is only transmitted through the blacklegged tick. The majority of human cases reported occur as a result of exposure to areas known to harbour infected blacklegged ticks. In the early 1990s, there was only one known risk area in Ontario, at Long Point Provincial Park. Since then, Ontario has seen an increase and expansion of blacklegged tick populations, particularly in eastern Ontario.
Symptoms of Lyme disease usually begin between three days and one month after being bitten by an infected tick. Prompt antibiotic treatment is usually effective. Early symptoms of Lyme disease may include; fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and an expanding red rash.
If left untreated, Lyme disease symptoms could progress to cardiac symptoms such as heart palpitations, arthritic symptoms, extreme fatigue and general weakness, and central and peripheral nervous system disorders. Lyme disease is diagnosed through a combination of symptom presentation, history of exposure to infected ticks and/or validated laboratory test results. The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid tick bites by using insect repellent when outdoors, wearing proper clothing, removing ticks from the body as soon as possible after bites, and removing tick habitats from around the home.