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Vector-borne Illnesses: Avoid the Bite!

Vector-borne illnesses are those passed to people through another source, such as a mosquito or a tick.  These illnesses are not currently widespread in the Northeastern Ontario area.  There is a possibility that, as a result of changes in climate and migration, the mosquitoes and ticks that are capable of causing illnesses could one day be a concern. 

Mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus which can lead to severe illness in populations like children and the elderly.  Ticks can carry illnesses, such as Lyme disease, that can lead to lifelong health problems.

In the Porcupine Health Unit region, the risk remains low for both West Nile virus (WNV) and Lyme disease. 

Since West Nile virus is transmitted from the bite of an infected mosquito, the health unit conducts weekly mosquito trapping and testing to determine if WNV is present in our area.

Lyme disease is an infection transmitted from the bite of an infected tick.  In Ontario, Lyme disease is only transmitted through the black-legged tick.  A number of these ticks have been identified across the Porcupine Health Unit area. 

What Can I Do to Protect Myself:

It is for this reason that we recommend taking protective measures to avoid bites from either mosquitoes or ticks.

  • Wear light-coloured clothing, closed-toe footwear, socks and long sleeved tops and pants.
  • Use insect repellent that has DEET or Icaridin according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so you should limit your time outdoors during those times.
  • Search your clothes and body for ticks. If ticks are found on yourself or your loved ones, they can be submitted to the Porcupine Health Unit for identification and testing.

For the most up-to-date information about these vector-borne illnesses and how to protect yourself from West Nile virus and Lyme disease, refer to the links from Public Health Ontario.

If you have questions or concerns about West Nile virus or Lyme disease, contact a Public Health Inspector at 705-267-1181 or 1-800-461-1818.