FREDERICTON (GNB) – York County has been identified as a new risk area for established or emerging blacklegged tick populations.

“Infected blacklegged ticks can spread the bacteria that cause Lyme disease when they bite,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “You are more likely to encounter a blacklegged tick in areas where populations are established or appear to be established.”

Risk areas are identified on a county-by-county basis because it is difficult to define precise geographic limits of tick populations.

“It is important to be tick smart,” said Russell. “Minimize your risk of tick-borne illness by protecting yourself if you are living or visiting these risk areas.”

People are encouraged to follow the following guidelines to protect against tick bites:

•           Use insect repellents that are effective against ticks and approved by Health Canada.

•           Avoid areas where ticks live. Walk in the middle of trails and avoid contact with tall grasses, woody shrubs and fallen leaves and twigs.

•           Cover up to keep ticks off your body. Wear long socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts.

•           Make your yard less attractive to ticks. Keep the grass mowed and place playground equipment in a sunny location away from forest edges.

•           Check for ticks.

-       Check your whole body and your child’s body after being outdoors. Blacklegged ticks are very small, so look carefully. Check the scalp and neck, in and around the ears, the back, under the arms, inside the navel and around the waist, the pelvic area and between the legs, and behind the knees.

-       Examine your clothing, outdoor gear and pets, and remove ticks before coming indoors.

-       Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to help find ticks.

•           Remove ticks safely.

•           Remove any attached ticks immediately. Removing ticks within 24 hours of attachment (tick bite) usually prevents infection.

•           Use fine-tipped tweezers or one of many available tick removal devices. With tweezers, grasp the tick's head as close to the skin surface as possible. Pull slowly upward with steady, even pressure.

•           Act if you have symptoms of tick-borne diseases.

-       If you are bitten by a tick, watch for early symptoms of Lyme disease or other tick-borne illness. Early symptoms may include fever, aches and pains (headache, fatigue, muscle pain and/or joint pain), and rash (a characteristic skin rash called erythema migraines may occur with Lyme disease).

-       Symptoms of Lyme disease may begin as early as three days after a tick bite or up to 30 days later. See your family doctor if you develop a rash or have flu-like symptoms. Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics and early treatment.

Additional information about ticks associated illness and protecting yourself is available online. An updated risk map can also be found online.

This is the second year of a two-year program conducted by the provincial and federal governments to enhance field surveillance and tick collection.

York County joins Charlotte, Kings, Saint John, Westmorland and Albert counties as regions in New Brunswick that are considered risk areas.