NORTH BAY, ON – The local health unit is warning people to protect themselves from ticks.

News broke over the weekend that a tick in Dunchurch came back positive for Lyme Disease.

Brendan Hatton, a Senior Public Health Inspector with the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit spoke with the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom and he says that the health unit has tested 14 ticks in total and nine of those were the black-legged tick which carries Lyme.

Of the nine black-legged ticks only one of them was a carrier for the debilitating disease.

Hatton says that it is significant that there was already a positive test result. He says that they had tested 30 black-legged ticks in 2018 and only seven of them came back positive.

“This is early in the year, and it’s starting to trend upwards that we might be seeing more ticks in the future,” says Hatton.

“We don’t have a real sense of what’s going on,” says Hatton, who goes on to say the press release sent out letting the public know there was a positive tick was from a very small sample size. “When you are starting to see numbers in that small sample size, you have to start to wonder is something happening?”

According to Hatton, Lyme Disease is progressing north across North America. He says that if you look at the Risk area map over the years, the map continues to grow.

The health inspector says there are a couple of factors as to why positive ticks are moving further and further north. He says that the ticks are being carried by migratory birds, and climate change has played a role.

“It’s definitely what they are calling one of the first epidemics of climate change.” He says that warmer winters and summers have made it so the tick can survive longer.

Hatton says that the important message to take away is that people need to take personal precaution.

He says he knows that people want to dress for the weather, but goes on to say that people out in the bush need to wear pants, tucking in your shirt, wearing socks, using bug spray with DEET and most important doing a tick check ASAP.

If you discover a tick latched on and it appears to be engorged or you believe it’s been on for 24 hours, seek medical attention.