Lyme Disease Report

  • Doug Mays brought up a subject vital to plein air painters. Lyme disease. It is spreading throughout Ontario, and is no longer just a threat to painters visiting the States. Consider the following:

    Ticks thrive in wooded areas, leaf litter and in long grass. People who spend time in areas where there are infected ticks are most at risk.

    Risk areas in Ontario

    Lyme disease has been found in black-legged ticks in these Ontario regions:

    • The north shore of Lake Erie including Long Point
    • Rondeau Provincial Park
    • Turkey Point
    • St. Lawrence Islands National Park
    • While these areas in Ontario are considered the highest risk for Lyme disease, changes to our climate - such as warmer seasons - are leading to more black-legged ticks in other parts of the province.

    Lyme disease is found in temperate forested regions of Europe and Asia and in the northeastern, north central and Pacific coastal regions of North America.

    If you’re planning a trip within North America:

    • Check the established tick populations in Canada to find out which Canadian regions are at greater risk for Lyme disease. Assume these lists are out of date and that ticks are spread further than the authorities suspect.
    • Visit http://www.canlyme.com/ for the latest Canadian information on Lyme disease.

    If you are planning on painting in wooded areas, tall grass or leaf litter, you should take the following precautions:

    • Frequently apply insect repellent to skin and clothing.
    • After you spend time outdoors, check your skin (body and scalp) carefully for ticks.
    • Promptly remove any attached ticks.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts that fit tightly around the wrist and long-legged pants wrapped with tape tightly around ankles. If you wear rubber boots, you can tuck your pants into the boots.
    • Wear light coloured clothing to make ticks easier to spot.
    Do not try to burn or remove a tick with grease or glues. Use pointed tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. (Do not grasp the body) And gently squeeze the head of the tick, causing its jaws to close and carefully pull the tick straight back from the skin. Do not twist, yank or pull at an angle. Pick out any tick parts that remain in the bite, wash the bite area, put antibiotic on the wound and go to your doctor when you get home.

    This is what a tick bite can look like. It can appear from one day to one month after the bite. However this rash only occurs in a minority of cases, in the majority, no circular rash appears.If you think you have been bitten by a tick, go to your doctor immediately upon getting home. Unfortunately, most Canadian doctors have no training in Lyme disease, and symptoms of Lyme disease can easily be mistaken for many other diseases (plus you might not exhibit symptoms for weeks, months and in some cases years). As well, Canadian government and medical guidelines on Lyme disease are years behind European and other medical authorities. Ask your physician to look at the Physicians' pages on http://www.canlyme.com/.
    Don't let Lyme disease, West Nile or Rocky Mountain fever keep you indoors. Simply take precautions, be observant and have fun.
    Keith Thirgood