Health Departments Southwestern Public Health

Black Tick Warning

Southwestern Public Health is reminding residents to be aware of ticks after a sharp rise in Blacklegged tick, or Deer tick, submissions to the health unit since March 1.

Over the span of two weeks, 8 ticks submitted for identification to the health unit were Blacklegged ticks which can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. In comparison, only 1 Blacklegged tick was submitted to public health the entire month of March in 2023.

“We tend to think of ticks as a warm-weather pest, yet ticks start to become active once temperatures rise above 0oC,” says Serena Roberts, Public Health Inspector at Southwestern Public Health. “The springlike weather we have been experiencing is likely contributing to this early tick activity.”

Lyme disease is an illness caused by the bacteria b. burgdorferi, which is spread to humans through bites from infected ticksOnly Blacklegged ticks carry this bacteria, although not all do. Symptoms of Lyme disease begin 3 to 30 days after a bite and may include fever, headache, and an expanding rash that may or may not resemble a bullseye. The rash can appear anywhere on the body. If untreated, the bacteria can spread through the bloodstream to affect other parts of the body. Late Lyme disease symptoms include arthritis, multiple rashes, and neurological and cardiac issues. Early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment can help prevent these symptoms.

“Protect yourself from ticks by covering up when you are going to be walking through or working in tick habitats – such as tall grasses, shrubs, or piles of leaves,” says Roberts. “If you find a tick attached to you, carefully remove it using a tick removal device and bring it into the health unit for identification. Always inform your health care provider when a tick is attached to you, regardless of what type of tick it is.”

The Environmental Health team at Southwestern Public Health conducts routine surveillance for the presence of medically significant tick species in the region. In 2022, Springwater Conservation Area within the Southwestern Public Health region was added to the Public Health Ontario Risk Map for Lyme Disease.

Health Departments Southwestern Public Health

The Biggest Single Day Spike of COVID-19 Cases in Our Region Means We Could be Moving Up a Tier

Today Southwestern Public Health reported 19 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of active confirmed cases in the region to 72. It also reported the region’s eighth death.

“These numbers are predictive of a move to the Red Tier of Ontario’s Safe and Open Strategy which will have a significant impact on our local businesses. These numbers – some of the highest of the year for us – are also predictive of an increase in serious illness, hospitalizations, ICU stays, and death,” warns Dr. Joyce Lock, Medical Officer of Health for Southwestern Public Health.

“There is good news, however. The good news is that each of you have what it takes to bring these numbers down, to decrease the amount of virus circulating around us, and to lower the risk to the community we love,” adds Dr. Lock.
The health unit asks the public to focus on three actions that will reduce the most common sources of transmission seen in our region:

  1. Maintain physical distance and wear a face covering in the workplace. The virus spreads quickly and easily when people are close together and unmasked, particularly in areas like break or lunchrooms.
  2. Limit close contact to members of your household. Close contact is within 2 metres for longer than 15 minutes.
  3. Stay home and get tested if you experience even one symptom. A test is the only way to know if your symptoms are COVID-19 related. Once you know your result you can take action to keep your loved ones safe.

About Southwestern Public Health
Southwestern Public Health works with its partners to ensure the health of the whole community. Our programs respond to public health emergencies; promote healthy lifestyles; help prevent injuries, illness Southwestern Public Health delivers mandated programs under the Ontario Public Health Standards and is regulated by the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act. The health unit maintains primary locations in Woodstock and St. Thomas. For more information, visit

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