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First case of Lyme disease confirmed in London region

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London-area public health officials have detected the first case of Lyme disease of the year.

An adult who lives in Middlesex County has been diagnosed with the disease caused by a bacteria transmitted through black-legged ticks, officials with the Middlesex-London Health Unit said on Tuesday.

“This case is significant, in part, because it was diagnosed much earlier in the year than we typically see Lyme disease cases,” Joanne Kearon, the associate medical officer of health, said in a statement.

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“With warming climates, ticks survive the winter. We’re therefore seeing ticks earlier, tick bites earlier, unfortunately Lyme disease earlier than ever.”

The London region is considered a “risk area” for black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, that are typically found in wooded areas and tall grass. Health officials urged members of the public to protect themselves against ticks and contact their health care provider if they develop symptoms following a tick bite.

Symptoms such as fatigue, fever, chills, headache and, in some cases, a rash resembling a bullseye begin appearing three to 30 days after being bitten. Left untreated, the disease can cause arthritis, rashes and neurological and cardiac issues.

People should protect themselves against ticks by wearing long sleeves and pants tucked into socks, using bug repellant and performing tick checks on themselves and their pets immediately after leaving an area where ticks could live.

“If you find a tick on a person’s body, remove it as soon as possible. Ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours to transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease,” Kearon said.

Anyone who removes a tick from their body or their pet can submit it for examination at etick.ca for identification.

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