The public health department in Hamilton is looking for a way to manage the tick invasion as there is an “estimated Lyme disease risk area.” They found black-legged deer ticks, which are known to carry the Lyme disease bacteria.
Connie DeBenedet is the acting vector-borne diseases manager in Hamilton, stating that the ticks are “going through their life-cycle in our area, rather than just being dropped off (by animals and birds).”
Public health stated that there is a low risk of infection, but the public must know everything about ticks and the fact that they’re in parts of the city. Except for the eastern parts of Stoney Creek and Glanbrook, all parts of the city are a Lyme risk area.
DeBenedet explained that Lyme disease could only be contacted after a black-legged tick that carries the bacteria fed on a person for at least 24 hours. She also said that not all black-legged ticks carry the disease, and they are most likely to live in the woods or tall grass.
The Number of Tick Cases Keeps on Growing
Jennifer Merry is a veterinarian at the Clappison Animal Hospital, saying that people in urban Waterdown found ticks on them after mowing the lawns:
“It’s surprising to us. We thought it would just be on people and dogs walking the Bruce (trail). My husband was changing tires in our driveway, and he got a tick … The birds are moving them around.”
She added that in the past three years the cases of people bringing in their pets for tick removal has increased from 2 ticks a year to 4-5 ticks per week:
“The numbers are definitely skyrocketing. We get a lot of sandwich bags with ticks in them. We have a lot of black-legged ticks.”
DeBenedet explains that Ontario has approved only two pesticides which are not very effective and might also affect pollinating insects. She added that the best way is to “use an integrated pest management plan,” meaning that the town cuts the grass frequently in parks and sports fields because:
“Ticks like to hide in tall grass and under leaf litter in cool and shady areas.”
She advises the public to walk on trails and avoid tall grass or heavily wooded areas.
In the city, there are signs that show the difference between the American dog ticks and the black-legged deer ticks. The dog ticks don’t spread the disease, added DeBenedet.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.