Case of Tick-Borne Encephalitis Identified in Hastings County

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/July 10, 2015 – A person with suspected tick-borne encephalitis has been reported to Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) and is under investigation.
Tick-borne encephalitis is a rare infection that can cause fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. There is no specific treatment, and people with severe infection often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain.
The most common tick borne infection in our area is Lyme Disease. On average 6-14 cases of Lyme disease occur in our catchment area each year. HPEPH conducts surveillance on ticks to determine if a tick is a carrier of infectious diseases by means of tick dragging and tick collection. The information collected is then used to determine high-risk tick areas.
The best protection against tick borne illness is to avoid tick bites. Tick borne encephalitis can be transmitted in a very short time - 15 minutes.
If you find a tick attached to you, bring it in to one of the public health offices in Belleville, Picton, Trenton or Bancroft. It is important to understand that the ticks are tested only for surveillance purposes. This test will not be useful to determine whether or not you have been exposed to Lyme disease.
Protect Yourself from Tick Bites
  • Avoid areas with a known high concentration of ticks. Ticks live in humid environments, including wooded and bushy areas with high grass and a bed of leaf litter. To avoid ticks, walk in the centre of the trails and avoid tall shrubs.
  • Wear protective clothing: light-coloured clothing, long-sleeved shirts and pants, closed-toe shoes and socks pulled over pant legs.
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET (active ingredient to keep bugs away) or Icaridin. Spray this on your skin as well as on your clothing. Always read and follow label directions.

Perform Daily Tick Checks

  • Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard.
  • Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body.
  • Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
  • Examine your gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later. Placing clothes in a dryer on high heat effectively kills ticks.

Remove Ticks from Your Body

  • Remove an attached tick as soon as you notice it.
  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick by the head as close to your skin as possible. Pull it straight out, gently but firmly.
  • Clean the bite area using soap and water or a disinfectant.
  • If the tick has been attached for >36 hours or you begin to experience symptoms as noted above you should seek medical advice.

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