The Ministry of Labour is warning outdoor workers in Ontario to be on the lookout for blacklegged ticks. These ticks can bite and infect people with bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the agent of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease if left untreated.
Generally, ticks live from early spring until late fall. People who work outdoors, especially in wooded areas or tall grasslands, are urged to take extra precautions.
Early signs and symptoms
The bacteria can be transmitted if a tick is attached to the skin and feeding for at least 18 to 24 hours. When a person is infected, symptoms usually develop within one to two weeks and include the following.
- muscle and joint pains
- swollen glands
- a skin rash, especially one that looks like a red bull's eye.
Workers are encouraged to seek immediate medical attention if any of these symptoms develop. Patients treated early usually make a complete recovery.
What should employers do?
- Determine if your workers may be exposed to ticks.
- Ensure workers are trained to understand:
- the risk of tick bites and Lyme disease, especially those who work outdoors in wooded, bushy areas or in tall grasses
- how to identify blacklegged ticks
- how to prevent tick bites
- how to treat a tick bite.
- Provide appropriate personal protective clothing as required.
What should workers do?