Ticks seen in mowed lawns, gardens as Hamilton remains a risk area for Lyme disease

News May 22, 2020 by Sebastian Bron Hamilton Spectator

The trails are open. The parks are showing life. The tee times are filled within hours.

That’s welcome news for a public that has spent weeks nursing boredom-riddled bouts of cabin fever.

It’s also welcome news for a quiet, tiny-though-familiar foe: ticks.

An influx of outdoor activity in recent weeks could spell a slightly more aggressive tick season in Hamilton, says the city’s vector-borne diseases unit, with the Lyme-disease-carrying bug already being spotted in unusual hot spots like mowed grass and backyards.

While Hamilton public health temporarily pulled the plug on recording identifiable tick data in March and April — instead turning its attention to the more pressing containment of COVID-19 — the city remains designated as an “estimated risk area” for Lyme disease.

“The trend continues to go up,” said Jane Murrell, supervisor of Hamilton’s health hazards and vector-borne diseases program.

“Anecdotally, we’ve seen an increase in where ticks are found. (Instead) of tall grasses being the main area, now people find them more so in their backyards with freshly mowed lawns.”

The overall risk of human infection remains low in the province, but “it’s there regardless,” Murrell said.

Black-legged ticks — those that can carry the Lyme disease bacteria — have made themselves a home in the city, establishing an area where they can go through a lifecycle as opposed to quick drop-off visits by way of transport animals and birds.

Of the 582 ticks submitted to public health in 2018, 92 were locally acquired black-legged ticks, of which nine tested positive for Lyme disease. Of the 892 ticks submitted in 2017, another 92 were black-legged and 11 tested positive for the bacteria.

Data for 2019 has yet to be compiled.

Lyme disease is of risk to humans insofar as a tick is black-legged, carries the disease’s bacteria and feeds on a person for at least 24 hours.

The good news is that not all black-legged ticks carry Lyme disease, and they’re tiny insects — some spanning the size of a poppyseed — who can easily die in sunny areas. But they’re out there in places you wouldn’t expect.

“A couple of our clients said they picked ticks up at Memorial Park, the main park in Waterdown,” said Jennifer Merry, a veterinarian at the Clappison Animal Hospital. “Five years ago, when ticks were first coming to the area, we thought if you’re not in long grass or on Bruce Trail, you’re OK.

“But you don’t have to be in hiking boots or go on a long walk to come across them. You can just be pulling weeds in your backyard garden.”

Both Merry and Murrell said people should avoid wooded, shaded areas where the risk is greater, and to check themselves — and their dogs or kids — for ticks when coming inside.

Sebastian Bron is a Hamilton-based reporter at The Spectator. Reach him via email: sbron@thespec.com

Tick tips

  • Wear light-coloured clothing outdoors to more easily spot ticks.
  • Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, to reduce skin exposure in wooded areas.
  • Use a tick repellent that contains DEET or icaridin. Do not use these products on your pets.
  • Use tweezers to remove ticks if size permits.
  • Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks.

Ticks seen in mowed lawns, gardens as Hamilton remains a risk area for Lyme disease

An influx of outdoor activity could spell a slightly more aggressive tick season, says the city’s vector-borne diseases unit

News May 22, 2020 by Sebastian Bron Hamilton Spectator

The trails are open. The parks are showing life. The tee times are filled within hours.

That’s welcome news for a public that has spent weeks nursing boredom-riddled bouts of cabin fever.

It’s also welcome news for a quiet, tiny-though-familiar foe: ticks.

An influx of outdoor activity in recent weeks could spell a slightly more aggressive tick season in Hamilton, says the city’s vector-borne diseases unit, with the Lyme-disease-carrying bug already being spotted in unusual hot spots like mowed grass and backyards.

While Hamilton public health temporarily pulled the plug on recording identifiable tick data in March and April — instead turning its attention to the more pressing containment of COVID-19 — the city remains designated as an “estimated risk area” for Lyme disease.

“The trend continues to go up,” said Jane Murrell, supervisor of Hamilton’s health hazards and vector-borne diseases program.

“Anecdotally, we’ve seen an increase in where ticks are found. (Instead) of tall grasses being the main area, now people find them more so in their backyards with freshly mowed lawns.”

The overall risk of human infection remains low in the province, but “it’s there regardless,” Murrell said.

Black-legged ticks — those that can carry the Lyme disease bacteria — have made themselves a home in the city, establishing an area where they can go through a lifecycle as opposed to quick drop-off visits by way of transport animals and birds.

Of the 582 ticks submitted to public health in 2018, 92 were locally acquired black-legged ticks, of which nine tested positive for Lyme disease. Of the 892 ticks submitted in 2017, another 92 were black-legged and 11 tested positive for the bacteria.

Data for 2019 has yet to be compiled.

Lyme disease is of risk to humans insofar as a tick is black-legged, carries the disease’s bacteria and feeds on a person for at least 24 hours.

The good news is that not all black-legged ticks carry Lyme disease, and they’re tiny insects — some spanning the size of a poppyseed — who can easily die in sunny areas. But they’re out there in places you wouldn’t expect.

“A couple of our clients said they picked ticks up at Memorial Park, the main park in Waterdown,” said Jennifer Merry, a veterinarian at the Clappison Animal Hospital. “Five years ago, when ticks were first coming to the area, we thought if you’re not in long grass or on Bruce Trail, you’re OK.

“But you don’t have to be in hiking boots or go on a long walk to come across them. You can just be pulling weeds in your backyard garden.”

Both Merry and Murrell said people should avoid wooded, shaded areas where the risk is greater, and to check themselves — and their dogs or kids — for ticks when coming inside.

Sebastian Bron is a Hamilton-based reporter at The Spectator. Reach him via email: sbron@thespec.com

Tick tips

  • Wear light-coloured clothing outdoors to more easily spot ticks.
  • Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, to reduce skin exposure in wooded areas.
  • Use a tick repellent that contains DEET or icaridin. Do not use these products on your pets.
  • Use tweezers to remove ticks if size permits.
  • Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks.

Ticks seen in mowed lawns, gardens as Hamilton remains a risk area for Lyme disease

An influx of outdoor activity could spell a slightly more aggressive tick season, says the city’s vector-borne diseases unit

News May 22, 2020 by Sebastian Bron Hamilton Spectator

The trails are open. The parks are showing life. The tee times are filled within hours.

That’s welcome news for a public that has spent weeks nursing boredom-riddled bouts of cabin fever.

It’s also welcome news for a quiet, tiny-though-familiar foe: ticks.

An influx of outdoor activity in recent weeks could spell a slightly more aggressive tick season in Hamilton, says the city’s vector-borne diseases unit, with the Lyme-disease-carrying bug already being spotted in unusual hot spots like mowed grass and backyards.

While Hamilton public health temporarily pulled the plug on recording identifiable tick data in March and April — instead turning its attention to the more pressing containment of COVID-19 — the city remains designated as an “estimated risk area” for Lyme disease.

“The trend continues to go up,” said Jane Murrell, supervisor of Hamilton’s health hazards and vector-borne diseases program.

“Anecdotally, we’ve seen an increase in where ticks are found. (Instead) of tall grasses being the main area, now people find them more so in their backyards with freshly mowed lawns.”

The overall risk of human infection remains low in the province, but “it’s there regardless,” Murrell said.

Black-legged ticks — those that can carry the Lyme disease bacteria — have made themselves a home in the city, establishing an area where they can go through a lifecycle as opposed to quick drop-off visits by way of transport animals and birds.

Of the 582 ticks submitted to public health in 2018, 92 were locally acquired black-legged ticks, of which nine tested positive for Lyme disease. Of the 892 ticks submitted in 2017, another 92 were black-legged and 11 tested positive for the bacteria.

Data for 2019 has yet to be compiled.

Lyme disease is of risk to humans insofar as a tick is black-legged, carries the disease’s bacteria and feeds on a person for at least 24 hours.

The good news is that not all black-legged ticks carry Lyme disease, and they’re tiny insects — some spanning the size of a poppyseed — who can easily die in sunny areas. But they’re out there in places you wouldn’t expect.

“A couple of our clients said they picked ticks up at Memorial Park, the main park in Waterdown,” said Jennifer Merry, a veterinarian at the Clappison Animal Hospital. “Five years ago, when ticks were first coming to the area, we thought if you’re not in long grass or on Bruce Trail, you’re OK.

“But you don’t have to be in hiking boots or go on a long walk to come across them. You can just be pulling weeds in your backyard garden.”

Both Merry and Murrell said people should avoid wooded, shaded areas where the risk is greater, and to check themselves — and their dogs or kids — for ticks when coming inside.

Sebastian Bron is a Hamilton-based reporter at The Spectator. Reach him via email: sbron@thespec.com

Tick tips

  • Wear light-coloured clothing outdoors to more easily spot ticks.
  • Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, to reduce skin exposure in wooded areas.
  • Use a tick repellent that contains DEET or icaridin. Do not use these products on your pets.
  • Use tweezers to remove ticks if size permits.
  • Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks.