Staff shuf­fle could in­crease de­lays

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - MARY CA­TON mca­ton@post­media.com twit­ter.com/win­star­ca­ton

Peo­ple with cam­eras wan­dered around the trails near the Ojib­way Na­ture Cen­tre look­ing for birds and other wildlife Thurs­day morn­ing.

The folks dressed head-to-toe in the white haz­mat-style suits were af­ter some­thing a lit­tle less pho­to­genic.

The five-per­son team from the Wind­sor-Es­sex County Health Unit was search­ing for ticks. “It’s that time when our lit­tle pesky friends are out in the long grass and the shrubs,” said Elaine Ben­nett, a health unit pub­lic health in­spec­tor.

There are sev­eral va­ri­eties of ticks, but the health unit is con­cerned with the pres­ence of black­legged ticks (formerly re­ferred to as deer ticks) be­cause those can trans­mit Lyme dis­ease.

The health unit con­ducts tick sur­veil­lance at sev­eral spots across Wind­sor and Es­sex County twice dur­ing tick sea­son. The sec­ond in­spec­tion will be done in Oc­to­ber. Stu­dents study­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal health at Con­estoga Col­lege and Ry­er­son Univer­sity were part of the search team. Later in the day, they were headed to the Chrysler Green­way trail in Amher­st­burg. Next week, the team will drag for ticks at Gesst­wood Camp in Es­sex and at the Rus­com Shores Con­ser­va­tion Area.

Ben­nett said the group won’t bother with Point Pelee Na­tional Park be­cause it has al­ready been iden­ti­fied as an en­demic lo­ca­tion for ticks in the prov­ince, as has Ron­deau Pro­vin­cial Park, Turkey Point Pro­vin­cial Park and Long Point Pro­vin­cial Park.

The group drags a white cloth at­tached to a length of wood along the grass or shrub line and any ticks that at­tach them­selves to the ma­te­rial will be taken for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

In ad­di­tion to the for­mal tick sur­veil­lance, Ben­nett said mem­bers of the pub­lic are en­cour­aged to con­duct “pas­sive sur­veil­lance.” This means plac­ing any ticks they find in a sealed con­tainer or plas­tic bag and bring it to the health unit. In 2017, the health unit looked at 386 ticks from Wind­sor-Es­sex. While the vast ma­jor­ity were dog ticks, 32 were black­legged ticks, two of which tested pos­i­tive for Lyme dis­ease.

As pub­lic awareness about ticks has in­creased, so too has the num­ber of them be­ing sub­mit­ted to the health unit. Al­ready this year, the health unit has iden­ti­fied 80 ticks, al­most dou­ble what it han­dled for all of 2012 when 42 ticks were sub­mit­ted. The unit hit triple-digit tick num­bers for the first time in 2015 when 121 were sub­mit­ted. A to­tal of 167 came in for 2016. Ben­nett said any­one en­joy­ing the outdoors near wooded ar­eas or bush should avoid walk­ing in tall grass and wear light coloured cloth­ing that cov­ers arms and legs with pants tucked into socks. Ev­ery­one should also do a full body check after­wards.

“We want to make sure no one’s health is com­pro­mised,” Ben­nett said.

Ticks should be re­moved with tweez­ers or a spe­cial ap­pa­ra­tus known as a tick key. Ticks can be as small as a sesame seed when un­fed and as large as a grape when they’re full of a vic­tim’s blood. Symp­toms of Lyme dis­ease in­clude fever, headache, mus­cle and joint pain, fa­tigue, skin rash, numb­ness and swollen lymph nodes.

PHO­TOS: NICK BRANCACCIO

Work­ers with Wind­sor-Es­sex County Health Unit’s tick sur­veil­lance pro­gram con­duct drag­ging at the Ojib­way Na­ture Cen­tre Thurs­day. They are look­ing for black­legged ticks, which can trans­mit Lyme dis­ease.

Work­ers with the Wind­sor-Es­sex County Health Unit’s ac­tive tick sur­veil­lance pro­gram col­lected spec­i­mens at the Ojib­way Na­ture Cen­tre on Thurs­day.

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