Rate of new Lyme disease cases in Leeds-Grenville, Lanark highest in Ontario

A black-legged tick. Note, the image has been magnified to show detail. (Supplied via Newswatch Group, File)

BROCKVILLE – This may be something to think about before your next walk in the woods or some tall grass.

The counties of Leeds-Grenville and Lanark had the highest rate of new Lyme disease cases in 2018, triggered by bacteria from infected black-legged ticks.

That’s according to figures shared today (Wednesday) with the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Board of Health, the Belleville Intelligencer reported.

The area covered by the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit had 58 reported infections per 100,000 people and 99 new infections last year.

Next on the list was the Kingston-area health unit with 53.5 cases per 100,000 people and 112 new cases.

To the east, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit was third with 20.6 reported infections per 100,000 people and 43 new infections in 2018.

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties were fourth. Health officials in the Belleville area say the numbers are better than the record high in 2017 but they’re not sure whether it’s an anomaly or a trend.

Lyme disease is a serious flu-like illness that causes fever, headache and muscle aches, a stiff neck, fatigue and swollen glands.

The risk of getting the disease is almost zero if a tick that bites you is removed properly within 24 hours.

The blood-sucking arachnids are usually found in woods, tall grasses and bushes. The health unit says you should take precautions like dressing in light coloured clothing to spot the creatures crawling on you and always do a self check.

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