Facts about Lyme disease and ticks

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in North America. The disease can cause serious, long term disability if left untreated. Early antibiotic treatment is essential, so identification of the disease in the early stages is very important.

Untreated, Lyme disease can affect the joints, the heart and the nervous system and is much more difficult to treat. Late stage Lyme disease can include chronic arthritis and neurological symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, numbness and paralysis.

Lyme disease is spreading in Canada and is expected to get worse with climate change.

If you have the following symptoms within days or weeks after being bitten by a tick, please report them to your family doctor immediately. Tell your doctor when and where you were bitten by a tick. If possible, keep any removed ticks and take them to your doctor who may need to have the ticks identified. Ticks can be stored in any sealed container in a fridge or freezer.

1. General symptoms of fever headache, muscle and joint pains, fatigue or weakness of the muscles of the face.

2. Skin rash, especially one that looks like a “Bull’s Eye.” It may or may not be where the bite was.

3. In some cases paralysis may occur. The paralysis usually starts in the feet and legs and gradually works its way up to the upper body, arms and head. This paralysis can develop from within a few hours to several days.